Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Lost Creativity

One of the things I have learned from my involvement in the world of innovation is to be open and attentive to what might come from unexpected places.  I don’t see myself as highly creative, but I do think I have been innovative.  Certainly, being innovative is one form of creativity.           

One thing I have done for much of my life is to read papers, magazines and other resources.  Recently, I heard an innovator say that he spent a half hour each day just reading things that had little or nothing to do with his area of work.  In my case that would mean spending a half hour each day randomly reading things that had nothing to do with spirituality or religion.  I am not sure I spend a half hour doing it, but I do spend some time.          

Another thing I have done is to expand the resources that I read.  Thanks to a younger friend of mine, I now am using some of the social media.  Social media are things like Facebook, Twitter, and the like.  I am not on all of them.  I know I could probably become addictive and go beyond spending time on them to wasting time.             

One of the social media sources is the world of blogs.  It was just such a venue where I came across a fascinating quotation that triggered thoughts for this reflection piece.  I was grabbed by an early line from a blog from a British newspaper, the Guardian.  The story was about the musician, James Rhodes, a pianist.            

The line reads, “We seem to have evolved into a society of mourned and misplaced creativity.”  Of course, the last part of that sentence attracted me: “a society of mourned and misplaced creativity.”  Clearly this is a commentary on British culture.  However, I think it is just as applicable to our American culture.  The line does not say there is no creativity anymore.  But the creativity is misplaced and in many ways lacking.             

When I read on in the blog, I saw a world being described that resonated with much of the world I also see.  The writer describes this world of misplaced creativity as “A world where people have simply surrendered to (or been beaten into submission by) the sleepwalk of work, domesticity, mortgage repayments, junk food, junk TV, junk everything, angry ex-wives, ADHD kids and the lure of eating chicken from a bucket while emailing clients at 8pm on a weekend.”  Obviously that is a long sentence, so it is worth unpacking.           

Our contemporary world which misplaces creativity is a world where people have surrendered or been beaten into submission.  Those are powerful verbs.  One is an active verb---surrender---and the other is passive---being beaten.  But the result is the same.  Where that happens, creativity has been lost.  The list of results is depressive.           

In this world of lost creativity we see people who are sleepwalking in their work.  We see domesticity, that is, people so home-broken that there is not more creative juice.  There is no zest or energy for anything new or novel.  In this world people are worn down by their domesticity.  There are the mortgage payments, the junk food and junk TV.  Sound vaguely familiar?  It even resonates with my world and my culture sometimes.  It brings me up short to read this.           

The author blogs on.  That non-creative world has surrendered to “junk everything.”  That is a captivating phrase.  Have I succumbed to junk everything?  If so, that condemns me to useless things which lead to useless living---in other words, a waste of time and a waste of life.  In this case I realize that even though I do not watch soap operas, my life has become a soap opera!           

In the language of the day, I need “to get a life!”  For me this is a spiritual charge.  It can even be a spiritual vocation.  I think it is fair to say that the spiritual quest and the spiritual journey is the process of “getting a life.”  When we engage this process, we are on a path that necessarily will lead to creativity.           

By saying that the spiritual pilgrimage puts us on a path to creativity is not to say that we will become famous painters, writers or musicians.  But we will become creative in our own way.  To become creative in our own way is to change the path of wasting life into one of creative a meaningful life.  That will mean different things to different people.  It means giving up the junk in life.           

Instead of junk, we are juiced by the spirit of real living.  We become renewed.  With this Spirit, we are resourced by the Creative Life in the heart of life itself, namely the Holy One.  To step into that world is to become counter-cultural.  Instead of the misplaced creativity of the junk food generation, we discover that we are agents of creativity bringing about good, healthy results in the world.  Count me in!

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