Friday, June 3, 2011

The Truly Creative Mind

"The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To them... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.

Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off...
They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating."  ---Pearl Buck

I've been trying to decide why this quote keeps sticking around in my mind, and why I love it so much.  I can't just post it without commentary, because it has some powerful imagery.  I first read it when going through my parents'  college scrapbook.  It was written very clearly and intensely in my dad's obviously younger handwriting.  I think when I read it, I got a window into my his younger, more conflicted years, trying to decide where to focus all his intelligence and creative energy. 

He eventually went on to try many jobs: jeweler, bookstore guy, and repo man included, until he found his life's work.  This was teaching.  He is a gifted teacher, commanding interest and excitement for learning from a wide range of children, from gifted to special needs.  In my later childhood, he started a church.  There, he shared his love of God and knowledge of the Bible with the wonderful people of Waianae.  Many people came in and out of his church,  as a person might go to a hospital for a time.  I cannot count the lives he has touched in the course of living his life where his God-given creativity led him.   I loved these words written in my dad's pen so dearly that I hung them on the wall in my dorm room in my sophomore year of college.  It was comforting to know that my faithful, soulful dad had feelings akin to mine, especially in the confusing and often lonely riot of emotion that define the college years.

I was a shy girl with light blonde hair; different as I could be from the kids I grew up with in Hawaii.  As much as I wanted to blend in, that much more I stuck out.  I always wished I could have dark hair and be a local, or at least be a popular white kid, like the ones who could do cartwheels and were adored on the playground.  Instead, I was a bookish, bunny-toothed girl who could not for the life of her figure out how to talk pidgen.  I was too quiet and unsure to try to really talk to many other kids except my closest friends, so, not knowing what to make of me, some kids teased; buck tooth, haole, teacher's pet.  Because I didn't have much else to do but think, I internalized these words far more than any one of them could have imagined or even intended.  After a while, I realized it really wasn't worth my energy to worry about these words, so I focused on what I loved instead, and that was to learn by reading and by making.

  As a child, I had a strong desire to create something out of nothing.  I was fascinated with taking everyday items around the house and creating something useful or beautiful out of them.  It was a challenge to try to make a little sculpture of a skiing guy out of some old wire or to create a whole world in a diorama box.  I was a renegade gardener, attempting to grow an orange seed in the soil next to a school sidewalk, and a watermelon in the dirt next to our apartments.  This way of thinking and working through creative ideas sometimes solely out of stubbornness is what has enabled me to learn so much in my adult years.

It is a powerful thing to be able to take an idea from the mind and to make it real.  Equally meaningful to me is the ability to learn something from a book and to put it into my life, whether in practice or substance.  When I wanted to spin yarn, I read every book I could on the subject and soon tried my hand at it.   I love to craft words in print to say what I can't muster in speech.  Capturing the beauty of nature and children through photography or drawing stirs my soul.  I love to learn about how ancient peoples lived, and love learning old knowledge, wisdom, and ways of living that were perpetuated for so many years leading up to the modern age.  Taking this old knowledge, it is beautiful to me to revive it and live it out in my life.   I love teaching a child things I have learned and seeing their eyes widen over what they have just come to know.  Being creative can be restorative and healing.

Most importantly, I have learned that finding where my "truly creative mind" lies allows me to understand a deeper connection with the original Creator of it all: God.  I know that each person has this place where he or she can be completely in tune with their Creator, understanding His intense love and passion for His handiwork.  It could be in the spotless sink, the creation of computer code, the composition of the photographic image, or the construction of a home.   I wonder what yours is?    


  1. Angie, you nailed it! Or your Dad did. I never realized why I always feel so conflicted. To write, to photograph, to play, to read, to scrapbook, to cross stitch, to run. I never feel like I'm doing enough.

  2. No matter how hard I try to suppress the seeds of creativity beneath the layers of busyness and daily life, somehow they seem to manifest themselves in their own due time. I cannot resist them! Thank you for reminding me this is a GOOD thing. Please keep posting. I love reading what you have to say.


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