â€œTo know is nothing at all. To imagine is everything.â€ â€“ Anatole France, French poet and Nobel Prize recipient for Literature
Each of us is born with a bottomless well of creativity. If you doubt this, observe how toddlers are â€œseriously at workâ€ during their playtime. Youâ€™ll learn a lot about curiosity, imagination and originality from them. Youâ€™ll be impressed at how and where they get their ideas. Iâ€™m pretty sure of this, because this is what Iâ€™ve realized in the past months.
Iâ€™ve done marketing and communications work for more than 15 years. Reading materials, conversations, and training programs on creativity have been a big part of my everyday life in all those years. But itâ€™s only in the recent months that Iâ€™ve had practical lessons from the most inspiring guru that Iâ€™ve ever encountered â€“ my own little girl, Sachiko.
Like any 18-month-old, sheâ€™s discovering more of her skills and more of the world around her. Amazingly and amusingly, so am I. Among the things that Iâ€™ve uncovered for myself while observing my baby are ideas on encouraging my own creative thinking everyday. And Iâ€™m sharing with you some of them here.
As Iâ€™ve mentioned earlier, I believe that weâ€™re all born with boundless creativity. But as we grow older, fears and doubts set in, limiting our imagination and the potentials that weâ€™re supposed to have.
About a couple of months ago, whenever my husband was teaching Sachiko how to go down from the bed, my heart was always pounding. I was always scared that sheâ€™d fall and slam her head on the floor. But if I had let my fear overpower the three of us at that time, she wouldnâ€™t be enjoying doing it today. Perhaps, Iâ€™d still need to carry her off the bed just for her to get on the floor and start walking.
If I had let fear consume me, I wouldnâ€™t have discovered my love for writing, too. I wouldnâ€™t even have written this article and let it be published.
I was with my husband and Sachiko in a restaurant about a week ago. As always, my little girl was just too curious about the cutlery and condiments on the table. So I placed all of them out of her reach. Or so I thought. Guess what she did? Since the cutlery and condiments were on a placemat, she slowly pulled the edge of the placemat so all the stuff she wanted would â€œcome to her.â€
For me, itâ€™s a reminder that toddlers have the balance of humility and persistence that gives birth to novelties in life. She was humble enough to accept her limitation, but she also believed that there was something else she could do to get what she wanted.
I also was able to find out a new skill of mine when I was running out of options recently. My husband and I were looking for a costume for Sachiko for a Halloween trick-or-treat. We couldnâ€™t find any ready-made costume that we like and that would fit her. So I decided that I myself will make her costume â€“ something Iâ€™ve never done before. I researched on the Web about how to make a hooded cape, bought a meter of fabric, took a deep breath, and did my best. Halloween ended with a satisfied mom and an exhausted Little Red Riding Hood with a basketful of goodies.
Enjoy the present.
If I want to keep all the creative ideas coming in, I should also learn how to let go of the past and acknowledge whatâ€™s in front of me. I notice how quickly my little girl can forget her frustration about accidentally knocking off her building blocks. In the next minute, sheâ€™s already elated, because sheâ€™s built a tower with her stacking cups.
When I appreciate what Iâ€™m currently doing, Iâ€™m more receptive to every possibility and every concept. This is something I try to remind myself every time. I try to set aside annoying things that wouldnâ€™t really help me progress in my work for the day â€“ even the thought of that neighbor who woke me up this morning with his noisy car engine. It would be hard for me to write articles or even play with my baby if I let myself be bogged down with unpleasant thoughts. I remind myself that everything that slows down my journey to imagination and discovery is unnecessary baggage.
These are just a fraction of the realizations I got from my little girl. I know that there may be some (or many) of you who may have already known these things for a long time. But, just the same, Iâ€™m sharing them with you with the hope that an idea or two here will spark your creative abilities. And Iâ€™m not just talking about the arts or artistic skills. This is also about everyday living.
Let me also leave you with this thought: People say that curiosity killed the cat. But now I think fear and negativism kill curiosity and creativity, leaving the cat with undiscovered potentials and one meaningless life. I believe thereâ€™s nothing more tragic than that.
How about you? Has anyone or anything stirred your creative thinking recently?