Now over the years, I have been about as left-brained as anybody. From math to engineering to IT, I’ve never had difficulty picking up theories that require logic and analytics. But over the years, age and curiosity has had my brain shifting slowly and subtly to the right-hand side, to the creative spheres of the mind. Perhaps it was the five years living in San Francisco, perhaps I was just tired of solving shit. During my last official standardized test I scored higher in the verbal side of the world and as I start up my job search, I find myself increasingly disinterested by number-crunching and technology. A really scary thought for me given previous financial dependency on all things solvable!
So my question is, where does creativity lie, in the head or in the heart? I ask because I’ve always thought creativity as an elusive goal for me. A concept and process that I could never truly understand. And yet over the years, I’ve had that adjective used to describe me from time to time which was eye-opening. In the mirror I don’t see a creative type but perhaps I’ve been misleading myself. We all know what a creative person looks like, they wear a lot of black, cool and interesting glasses and maybe a funky haircut, piercing or tattoo. They accessorize well with colors and have an emo, hyper-sensitive attitude. I remember one night, hanging out with a colleague who had a design background and we were introduced to another creative-type and I remember this person saying about my friend, “Oh I can tell from here that you’re a creative…” And you know what, those words stuck in my craw. They sounded hollow and superficial to me as if true creativity could ever be labeled, profiled or typecast.
I remember many years ago in San Francisco when I ran into my downstairs neighbor, let’s just call her Figgy. She was intelligent, beautiful and bold, and while I did not spend that much time with her due to an aborted attempt at romantic overtures, the brief intersection of our lives still stands out to me. I remember visiting her apartment which was right below mine. It had the same layout, same walls, same floors but it was as if you had stepped into a different world. She had spend countless hours choosing the color palette and decorations in this figgy world. It felt cozy, vibrant and safe all at the same time. And while she didn’t have much space or money (who does in SF?) she had done an impeccable job of making her small space home.
And I recollect a dinner that she cooked and while we were in the kitchen, I found some cut flowers on the counter. She asked me to arrange them and I reluctantly attempted to. Given her background as a professional floral designer that would be like trying to cook for a famous chef. But in her own encouraging way, she prodded me to give it my best attempt and that art and creativity were all in the eye of the beholder. That any and all things were possible if you cared enough about it. It was more about the process and passion rather than the end result. She was definitely a cool and creative gal; one with no tats, no piercings and believe it or not, came from a corporate background.
And that’s the danger in the word “creative”. What I learned from Ms. Figgy is that creativity is not a mental or physical pursuit. It’s not about the clothes you wear, the eyeglasses you choose. It can’t be identified and pinpointed but it can be appreciated. There is no right or wrong definition or panel that deems you as such. And over the years, I truly believe that word has been hijacked by poseurs and people who find themselves at a loss to define and differentiate themselves. They wield it in a way that discourages and puts up walls rather than opening up boundaries and being all inclusive. And so in the end, in the brief time that I spent with this special woman, I have come to believe that creativity lies in the heart and not in the head. And who among us can truly look into another person’s heart and see everything that is there? I certainly can’t outside of my own…