The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.



Aside from the good guy characteristics – kindness, consideration, generosity –  there are two characteristics I value above all others.  One is creativity; the other is imagination. Discipline runs a close third – discipline of both mind and body. I sometimes wonder if imagination and creativity are one and the same.  If not, where is the line that differentiates them?

It seems to me that one can possess imagination without being creative but I don’t think one can be creative without imagination. Consider an artist.  Certainly his imagination combined with creativity to produce  a painting. Is it possible to produce a  painting without exercising some  imagination?  I think so.   A woodworker can build a birdhouse – a creative talent – without imagination.

I can be imaginative in the kitchen – change a recipe, play around with various spices – but that is not creativity.  It becomes creative when I develop an entirely new recipe. Conversely, the act of assembling a 500 piece puzzle demands some creativity, but no imagination.

Are we born with those characteristics or can they be learned? Handed a box of crayons a toddler will begin to scribble all over a sheet of paper.  His ‘picture’ may be indecipherable but his creativity was in full gear while he scribbled. Was he imagining something when he drew that picture?

Whether innate or learned I think either characteristic can be drummed out of a child. When that happens a child grows up to be a robot, a turnip.  Only when our teachers’ colleges and curricula recognize the value of creativity and imagination and are taught how to encourage those traits will people benefit from life-saving and labor saving devices, and a new galaxy found, for progress is not made by one lacking those traits.

What is creativity?  Imagination?  William Plomer (?) describes creativity as “. . . the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.” Einstein calls imagination “…everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” I’ve also seen creativity described as: “…. Your job is to have mind-blowing , irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you’re writing about.”  Don’t laugh. Applaud the writer’s creativity.

Both, I think, call upon one’s ability to squint: to see beyond the black and white of things: to experience the many shades of gray; to visualize a rainbow as a lasso, a plate of spaghetti as a confused mind, a garden hose as a snake.  Squinting is exercise of the brain in a manner that feeds one’s creativity and imagination. Go outdoors and look at a tree with a squint. What do you see?

See previous posts:  Flying High and Squinting.

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Julie Rose


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