Listen to this Story
Narrated by Anjan Prakash
I. Laying the Context
This post uses the word creation and creativity. So at the onset, I would like to establish, that no matter who we are, what discipline we are practicing or not practicing, whether we are conscious about being creative or not, we are inherently creative beings. In fact, this extract from the Biomimicry Resource Handbook, written by Dr. Dayna Baumeister, describes it in a very accessible and useful way. You can replace the word designer with creator, as it means the same in this paragraph. She says:
“Everyone is a designer regardless of what discipline you may practice. We all create new ideas and design new ways of doing things – both tangible and intangible. You may be a product designer, business designer, architectural designer, furniture designer, graphic designer, information designer, etc. or design may not be a part of your job title. You could also be designing something as simple as your front yard for landscaping, or your meal plan for the week, or an implementation strategy. If you plan, and make choices about execution, you are designing.”
I therefore refer to this designing as creativity, that is ever present in each one of us.
If you are a teacher, you are likely to be exploring creative ways of learning for your students. If you are a parent, you are likely finding creative ways to help your children grow and expand. If you are a farmer, you are likely looking at creative ways to grow food and manage yields. If you are a caregiver, you are likely finding new ways of making the person suffering, more comfortable and cheerful.
However, in our recent human culture, part of our education system, accompanied by the language used to describe it from thereon, has isolated creativity and creation, as being partial or exclusive or limited to a certain type of people. In believing this story, many of us might allow our creative energies to stay dormant within us, or one fine day just wakeup to it and flow in it. But if we begin to see the natural law of the earth, every single life form, non-human and human is creative, as this is what helps us make choices, build, plan, figure out, attune, adapt, evolve and run our daily lives. To survive and thrive, creativity is integral.
So in this context of creative equality we share as a whole, whereupon I see each of us as creative beings, I wish to move us into an enquiry.
II. Creativity and Creation
When I look back on my childhood days at school, I engaged in plenty of competitions, and now in hindsight, I can articulate why so. It is only because I got a chance to use my creative energy and engage my imagination, away from the four walls of the classroom. From Rangoli competition (which is about making beautiful patterns on the floor using rice powder and colours), drawing competition, debates, extempore, dance, drama, sports, I looked forward to using my hands, my body, my senses, imagination, to bring something into life, to bring it into expression.
When I look back at teenage years, I loved exploring outdoors, and wouldn’t miss any opportunity to jump onto the bandwagon of our neighbour’s family hired van departing on a trip, friend’s families setting off on bikes, or any such group about to go exploring; hiking; or sometimes as they then called it, `sight-seeing’. It could be a trip to the nearest waterfall; or a visit to a geographically interesting temple location; because something about being in such fresh open spaces probably touched and stirred my creative bones, and in many ways seem to have influenced what I wrote during that period, or imagined for my future. Be it poetry, short pieces, the love letters written poetically; pages and pages of letters written to other friends, to a point that my father threatened that he just couldn’t afford the stationery and postal charges anymore, nor keep posting the letters for me on his way to catch his factory bus, and it might be simpler if he got me married off to a postman. Not to forget my running imagination that one day I would be an explorer, travelling to the deepest jungles across the world. All of this using my creative energy.
Similarly, when I look back on my years in advertising, my very first job at Ogilvy, the number of films we made, and the need to contribute to each film as a junior, then as an assistant, then as a Senior decision maker, till I finally co-founded an ad film production house making several TV commercials, it was to creatively engage in the visualization of a script, the sets, the costumes, the cinematography, the music, edits, collaborating with other creative energies.
And today, when I look at the last eight-nine years of my deep dive into the natural world from the perspective of wellness and its natural laws, biomimicry, human relationships, growing food, mythology, indigenous wisdom, storytelling, nature writing, it is once again to understand the beautiful creations that surround me, what they teach me, creatively find ways to communicate it, and to bring something into the world that is more fully me, true to who I am.
Then a couple of days ago, as I was reflecting on creativity and above, a few questions rose through me, for me:
- Why is it that I so love to engage my creative energy? Why do I love to create?
- Why do I love meaningful beautiful creations whether done by me, or by others?
- If I love creating and creations, then do I remember most of what I have created, if not all?
III. The Open Enquiry
When I sat with these set of three questions in enquiry, it so happened, that the process of coming to an understanding of why I love to create and why it is integral to us all, came from an elimination process of answering these questions in the reverse order.
So the 3rd question:
If I love creating and creations, then, do I remember most of what I have created, if not all?
Hmmm, that’s an interesting question.
I do remember participating in the many competitions I mention, and creating a whole bunch of stuff that either won or did not win. I do remember writing poems, short pieces, and one here and one there made it to the school or college magazines. I do remember making several TV commercials. I do remember over the last year and half writing the many blog posts. I do remember folding several origami pieces with a dear friend. I do remember creating many writing pieces for The Vault, which is our business. I do remember several creative projects of others from travels, from books, from internet, or through direct engagement in the act itself.
But I do not remember the creations in its details, only as broad strokes, and some I don’t remember at all. There’s just the memory of having done so, or seen so.
And, to answer the question therefore, I do not remember creations as such.
It could mean, it is not the creation itself or what I create, that is the prime reason to access my creative energy.
Because if this was the focus, wouldn’t I remember each creation in most of its details?
So I looked at the next question:
Why do I love meaningful beautiful creations whether done by me, or by others?
Chris Anderson, the head of TED, shares, ‘the mission of a speaker is to take something that matters deeply to you and to rebuild it in the minds of listeners. A mental construct, that they can hold on to, walk away with, value, and in some sense be changed by’.
Similarly when I create something, I feel that it sometimes shows me something to hold on to, walk away, value, and in some sense be changed by, either because of the way it is expressed, or the fresh perspective it offers, or because it shifts something in me.
In other words, then, is it the effect of the creation that I am interested in?
Is what I derive for myself when I see a meaningful creation, by someone else or by me, that interests me? My answer is a partial `yes’.
Yes, that does happen, some creations whether of others or myself influence me and stir me up.
But I know that I love using my creative energy and creating, even if it didn’t have the effect that I share above. Not everything I create or others create can ignite something in me, or stir me up always. Many might not do that.
And yet through this understanding, I felt that maybe I was getting closer to the core question, which is:
Why then is it that I so love to engage my creative energy and create? Why do I love to create?
It is not for the creations in and of itself, as I don’t seem to remember much of them.
It is not just for the possible effects or influence it offers, as not every creative act can do so.
IV. I Create To Be Created
Through all the stuff I was creating for my competitions in school, through all the outdoor activities, poetry, short pieces in my teenage years, through all the films I was making in my first career, through all the immersion in wellness, biomimicry, nature in the last eight years, and the writing of this blog, through the nature inspired projects I am building, in each of these creative acts, I am being created.
In the act of creating, I am being created.
In each of this, yes, there is an external outcome – of a product, or a process, or a dance, or a debate, or a film, or a blog post, an origami piece to show others, or an immersive workshop, or a course, for others to see and experience.
In each of this, yes, sometimes I find value, sometimes it influences me, sometimes it has the capacity to shift something in me.
But the most important thing unfolding through each act of creation since childhood is how I am being created through it. I use the energy, as in doing so, I am getting built.
This understanding sat straight in my heart. It seem to show me why it is an ongoing process for all of us, and for all life forms.
I love to use my creative energy, and I love to create, because when I am doing so, I am allowing myself to be created. It is the one thing that sets in action with our birth, that seems so effortless when we are children, and as long as we use this energy, this energy will continue to create us.
If I stop creating, I stop being created.
I experience this when I procrastinate, I experience this when I have moved into brief periods of stagnation, I experience this when I find excuses to not be in the flow of creation, I experience this when I miss a creative class that nourishes me. I experience this when I stop participating in daily life using my presence and choice, I experience this when I resist life, I experience this when I have ignored what my senses are telling me, I experience this when I disengage when the going gets difficult. In these moments, when I give up on the energy that is the creating force, I just freeze.
And when I participate, show up, plan, create, make choices, use my hands, my body, my senses, my expression, my imagination, my emotions of curiosity-awe-wonder-play, my willingness to walk through fears and challenges, accept the flaws I still need to work through, so long as I am willing to open them out to creative energy, I get shaped, I get built, I get sculpted, I get created. It might be raw, messy, unfinished in each phase of my life, or in each situation, but the fact that the process has started, means, I am one step closer to what is waiting to be created of me.
I create to be created. This is what I am sitting with, and wished to share it with you, and invite you into this enquiry.
V. The Ask
Through engaging in life’s tiny acts or elaborate projects, when we dip into our creative energy be it as a beautiful home-maker, a caregiver, a parent, a teacher, an artist, a designer, an engineer, a scientist, a farmer, a banker, doctor, speaker, student, we are getting created as the human being we are, and the abundant potential we came into this world with. And it is this, that we find joy in – in what happens to us, what becomes of us, what shapes us through the process of creating, even more than the various creations itself.
I open these questions to you. What do you think?
Why do you create? Why do you design? Why do you plan, make choices and execute? Why do you imagine and find ways to express it?
And if you are not doing so, why do you think you are not doing so? What could be the block? If you opened it out a little bit to your inherent creative energy, what in you might get created?
This is a fresh enquiry in me, and your sharing can further expand it for me.
I really do look forward to hearing from you in the way you are most comfortable sharing – whatsapp, email, comment, call, voice message, all are welcome.
Thank you so much for reading.
Let us together have a weekend where we celebrate our creative energies.
*I will now be back mid-September with my next blog post, as I am off to do a course.