I am watching a group of high school students from the window of my gym. Out across the field they have gathered to practice throwing spears. As i watch from the treadmill of my cardio torture device, immense snow flakes begin to fall, dropping like soggy cotton balls upon the cherry blossoms. The repetition of the machines, the slow-motion falling snow and the boys throwing and retrieving spears out across the whitening field converge to ignite my thinking and then suddenly, unexpectedly, i have a new blog entry….
Firstly, while watching the boys i am reminded of a video i recently watched on www.ted.com called Five Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do. The presentation, by Gever Tulley, argues that we have so over-emphasized safety that we have turned childs’ play into an antiseptic version of its former self. We are stifling children’s curiosity and their natural urge to interact with their environment. Spears are third on his list of dangerous things. The throwing, the marksmanship, the structural problem solving are essential building blocks for a healthy creative mind. Looking at the boys, I watch primal instinct at work and I imagine how happy their old brains must be to be given the chance to hunt again.
The snow keeps falling and a second thought rushes in: In my efforts to deepen my understanding of creativity as a process and applied skill, i have been doing a fair bit of reading. Leonardo da Vinci was a master at generating ideas and one of his methods for doing so was to force connections between seemingly unrelated subjects. Given a bit of time the mind cannot help but to begin making links and new associations. Ordering the chaos perhaps. So back to the kids: Watching them throw spears got me to thinking about adult creativity and what five dangerous things adults need to play with to enhance creativity. de Vinci liked to watch the embers in a fire. These days fire seems to happen at the touch of a button behind tempered glass. It is neither hot nor inspiring. But a real fire, now that is a different story. So I am putting fire on my list. But what else? Perhaps inappropriate or risky behaviour is in fact creativity trying to express itself, or the mind trying to disturb predictability and convention in order to inspire new ideas, designs, conversations, etc. We need to be creative.
Finally, as i watch the boys gather their spears and run single file back along the park periphery for the warm shelter of their stagnant classrooms (that’s another story…) i marvel at the snow and the peaceful contemplation that it has inspired. I realize the snow, like the embers in da Vinci’s fire, has inspired me to make a random association between spear throwers and creativity and blogging….
Stay tuned for more on creativity and how you can get yours flowing more freely…