The Quest for Creativity


Creativity like any act in life is a spiritual act. We seek meaning in our lives in many different ways, and the act of creating — the act of making something ourselves — helps us to not just find meaning, but to create it. All humans have an innate need to create, to build, to paint, to cook, to sew, or to make something where there was nothing but a lump separate parts. Through the act of creating we get in touch with ourselves and begin to create the meaning that we seek.

But many people believe that they are not creative. They believe that the creativity fairy has passed them by or that they just don’t have the natural talent or that only certain people are gifted with creativity. But the truth is we are all creative — every single one of us. But then why do so many believe that they are not?

We might just have too narrow of a definition for creativity. We are all unique and different, so we are creative in very different and unique ways. We are not all the same, but we all have the innate ability to make something new that has value. For one person it might be through music and song, and they have a gift for putting together melodies or lyrics. For another it might be using paint to create colorful and moving images. Yet for another it might be mathematics, and they see the path for solving complex problems. For another it might be a way for an offense to stymy the opposition in football. All of these rely on creativity.

Creativity is not a single thing. It’s not a one size fits all thing. It’s not just a thing for the geniuses. It’s not just a thing for those artsy-fartsy folks. It’s a human thing. But we have been socialized to believe that creativity is for special people or it’s about special subjects or only certain people are creative. Many people have closed themselves off to the possibility that they are creative, and so they become unwilling to even try.

But the urge to create — that innate need has persisted, so they rely on companies, corporations, and other individuals to show them what and how to create. With the proliferation of DIY shows, books, websites, and YouTube videos, it’s simple to let others figure these things out — to sit back and rely on someone else’s creativity. Though they may have taken the steps to sing, to build, to sew, to paint, and to make, they have left the creative decisions to others.

This has led to companies, corporations, and individuals to can creativity — pre-package projects where outcomes are known. We get a taste for creating but without the problem solving, without the trial and error, and without the discovery. We get the sense that we are creating, and it quenches that innate desire, at least for a little bit.

Many people seem to prefer this canned creativity because there is no risk. We know what the outcome will be, so we don’t have to risk absolute failure. We know it can be done because we can see the product, but we don’t come up with anything new. We simply follow someone else’s directions, and we don’t have to risk relying on our problem solving and critical thinking. It’s much more convenient to leave those decisions to someone else.

However, we never discover anything about ourselves. We never create the meaning that we were looking for because we look for others to create it for us. How can we take something that someone else has created and connect it to our own personal meaning? Something might appeal to us. Something might speak to us, but it will never be authentic to us.

In the end we become merely consumers consuming a product, but we can’t consume meaning. We must make it for ourselves.