Sometimes, when we think we’re walking around in circles, we’re just not paying attention; either to the path we’re on or what is at the centre of our journey.
Walking so quickly and intently, we cannot see what is obvious and calling to us.
Metaphorically, we walk past our creativity every day; every time we dismiss an idea as improbable, or crazy, or socially unacceptable. We walk past our creativity like we walk past somebody sleeping on a bench, or under newspapers in a doorway with only their dog for company.
We make assumptions instead of stopping to talk, understand how they got to be where they are, and if we do nothing else, acknowledge them and where they are on their own journey.
Our creativity gets to know its place early on, as soon as school (or, in the UK, pre-school) starts, and assessment begins.
The little boy went first day of school He got some crayons and started to draw He put colors all over the paper For colors was what he saw And the teacher said.. What you doin' young man I'm paintin' flowers he said She said, It's not the time for art young man And anyway flowers are green and red There's a time for everything young man And a way it should be done Harry Chapin Carpenter. Flowers are green and red. Video
And before we know it, we are graduates with a mountain of debt and enclosed within an economy where our status is determined by how well we can run up the down escalator of our job, even as our mental health picks up the bill as our creativity is left sleeping under a newspaper.
We underestimate ourselves, because the economy works better that way. There is absolutely no profit in having our morning tea outside, as the birds turn up the volume to eleven in the early morning at this time of year, or walking the long way to the station, or taking our laptop into the park. Productivity requires we leave exercises like that, where we may bump into our creativity unexpectedly, quietly undisturbed.
Reality, though, is different. We can see organisations of every shape and size, struggling for the creative breath they need as they fail to keep up with the changes around them, because they cannot afford to see things differently. Creativity becomes a department where flowers are red, and leaves are green.
Somewhere we can walk past.
I can think of few financially successful organisations that were creative for other than a brief moment at the beginning of their lives, when the spark blazed before being tamed. And increasingly, those flames are being extinguished in favour of the equivalent of underfloor heating.
Artisans know and feel differently. When push comes to shove, the creative work inside them, or organisational compliance, the organisation will lose.
Every time we walk past our creativity and leave it dormant, we are complicit in a homelessness scandal.
And we cannot afford that, for ourselves or our communities.
We must stop walking past, no matter who looks at us.
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That is a very striking metaphor, and very true. Truly noticing others and noticing what's in ourselves come from the same place, and reinforce each other.