whistlestop caboose

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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Friday, February 24, 2006

Moonbeam drawer, inside the box

Cultural crossroads: Irish linen, Indian box, French elm table, in a Swiss room. The difficult art of co-existing, of listening.

Dear Tara, you will never have to hear this phrase, I think: "thinking outside the box". It's another way of saying be creative!

Bah, humbug. I cringe when I hear it because the only people I have ever heard using it spend their lives avoiding creativity.

Today I had a writing class at Webster University in Geneva. I gave my students four photographs. I asked them to write down three words for each photo: descriptive or evocative.

The top of a box, from India

I took in the papers and redistributed them, asking the students to select six words and write a story.

The rules were simple: select six words, write a story, make sure the sentences are short.

The result was panic, disguised as effervescence.

"Six sentences?"
"Should it be a list?"
"Can we put two words in one sentence?"
"What if we want to use more?"
"Is this word misspelled?"
"But I'm not creative . . ."

The last was the most honest reaction. Few people feel they are creative. But what is "creative"?

Outisde the box: a few distractions

I believe it is very simple, and that creativity is something we should all develop and maintain. It is the ability to see things in a new way. To take the already perceived and hold it up to the light and turn it this way and that and see if our perceptions shift. We should all do this in our daily lives, turning over in our minds our friendships and loves, to see if they are what we think they are. We should do it in business, to see if our accepted attitudes and notions hold true. We are all created equally creative. Some exercise the option, while others do not.

Back to boxes.

Here is a box, a gift from Indian friends. When we go outside the box we see bits and pieces of daily life. In other words, we are distracted. The view is pleasant. Now what?

Let's try stepping back inside the box for a minute. Oh, I like this place! It is warm and cozy and lush and my senses are set on fire!
I'm going to pull down the lid just a bit, snuggle into this delightful box, and peek out at the world.

They can't see me, but I can see them.

In this comfortable place, with no worries, I might just find a new idea or two. Looking at this red velvet lining I start to think about setting the world on fire.


Blogger Vasta said...

a lot of my friends, when i encourage them to do something, say, "well sameer, i'm just not as creative as you are."

this makes me laugh, only because i never considered myself as a creative type, but i still admit i am creative, just as i admit that everyone can be creative: in fact, creativity is the foundation of basic human survival.

creativity doesn't have to mean thinking outside the box &mdash this thinking has made people feel they are 'uncreative' &mdash creativity means taking what you have in the box and using it well.

10:54 PM  
Blogger whistlestop caboose said...

Well put, Mr. Vasta! I think that's a very healthy and heartening sentiment.

Thank you for sharing it.

11:26 PM  

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