CREATIVITY

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

Joe gets a flat by a mental institution but drops the lug nuts down the drain while removing the wheel. An inmate walks to the fence and says, "Hey buddy, take one lug nut from the other wheels. That'll get you back on the road." Joe looks up, "Wow, good thinking. Why are you in that nut house?" The inmate smiles, "I'm crazy fella, but that doesn't mean I'm not creative."

Like Joe, we are conditioned to think inside the box, to react conventionally rather than creatively. But not being able to invent a better mouse trap, paint a Mona Lisa or compose a symphony does not mean we are not creative. We just need a little help, as Joe did, to think outside the box.

Thinking inside the box is not necessarily wrong or inferior. Some rivers are made breathlessly beautiful and exciting by the canyon through which they run. We can be creative in our ordinary, everyday life too, like Mary, who shifts the shape of her knee-jerk reaction to a heart-centered response:

While reading a newspaper at her bus stop, a boy zooming by on skates knocks the paper from her hands. "Why don't you grow up?" Mary yells. The boy stops and looks back while Mary returns his gaze. "I meant to say I was afraid of getting hurt. I apologize for what I did say." The boy smiles, "Hey, that's cool!"

Every creative urge asks you to act as well as think outside the box. Let your imagination play with you, then work with what it brings to the surface. Find your inspiration. Face your worst fears, highest hopes and fondest dreams. What touches your heart? Astonishes you? Turns you on? What creative project would make you risk failure and criticism? How can you make it more than just a dream? Passion is rooted in who you are and arises from an inherent ability to play the music that is you. If you really want to do something, you can.

One way to get out of the box of habitual, conventional thinking is to get out of the house. Take a walk in the woods, ponder a star-filled sky, listen to wolves pleading with the moon, smell flowers, fly kites. Seed your time outside by asking yourself questions.

What feels unfinished and incomplete?
Did going outside the box work in the past?
What would be a path with heart right now?
Who could help me get the music in me out?

We are sailboats. On the starboard leg of our creative journey, we sail the seven seas of divergent thinking where we out-vent everything. On the port leg, we sail into one harbor of convergent thinking where we in-vent one thing. You cannot discover new lands without losing sight of the shore. Toss the line and raise the sail. The seven seas are waiting. Just keep in mind that decisions are easier when you give up your need for approval and your fear of failure.