Defining Creativity

Years ago, I was in a conversation at work when someone in the conversation asked me if I was creative. Without skipping a beat, one of my colleagues answered for me, “No, she’s not.”

I was struck just a little by his comment, until I thought about it for a while. You see, to this person, creativity is about having an artistic spirit, being a bit flighty and going where the winds seem to take you. It’s about freewheeling ideas and new ways to think about things. That might explain why he spent several years working in live theater, building sets and working behind the stage. By his definition, I’m not at all creative. I’m a pragmatic thinker, detailed and analytical.

I think to some degree, it also depends on how you define creativity. After all, at the time that this comment was made, I was an organic gardener with a serious quilting habit. I’ve since gone on to become quite a productive knitter, and while I don’t make my own designs, I create things all the time.

Creativity in many ways defies a single definition. If you watch small children, they have such imagination and such ability to see things in a new way. As we grow, our creative spirit changes as our personality takes shape but I don’t think that the desire to create ever fully goes away. Everyone I know has a need to create something – and in many ways it’s a fundamental part of how we live our lives. Whether it’s doing a home improvement project, shopping to redecorate a room, or making things by hand with wood, fiber or cloth, the human connection to the creative spirit runs deep and strong.

The creative spirit is restless too, seeking that which is new or unusual sometimes, and things that are familiar and comforting in others. Just ask anyone who crafts and if they’re honest, they’ll confess to the stack of unfinished projects that lurk in the back of the closet; testament to the creative spirit which moved along quicker than the work did.

Whether you’ve thought of yourself as particularly creative or not, take a few minutes to identify the work of that creative spirit in your life. I’m going to bet it’s there, and you’ll be surprised at how powerful it is.

As for me, I’m off to start something new – but more about that tomorrow.

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