According to John Updike, “Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.”
I believe everyone is creative. Creativity is not just about painting a masterpiece or decorating a room better than anyone else or sitting in a glass box in the middle of a crowded city and composing a violin concerto. Creativity is taking what you have, the talents you were given at birth or the simple resources you have available to you, and doing something worthwhile with those things.
It drives me crazy when my friends and members of my family say that they are not creative. I think, How can you not be creative? You’re a human being! Humans are essentially creative creatures. We’ve been creating since the dawn of time. We built the pyramids in Egypt and Mexico. The Taj Mahal in India. Notre Dame de Paris in, well, Paris. And we didn’t stop there! Then we decorated all of these edifices with murals, jewels, writings of a hieroglyphic and calligryphic nature, and elaborate stained glass windows.
Humans have created masterpieces of music that have stood the test of centuries. Handel, Beethoven, and even Barry Manilow have created music that transcends time. Everyone recognizes The Messiah, “Fur Elise,” and “Copacabana.” These men took what they knew, took what they had, and created something remarkable.
Creativity was handed down to us from our ancestors. It’s more common than brown eyes or olive skin and more prevalent than heart disease or obesity. Being creative is simply who we are.
The feeling that some are creative and some are not tends to be widespread in those of my profession: high school teachers. Teachers at the high school level often look at their elementary school friends and think that elementary school teachers are just more creative. After all, their classrooms are always decorated for the holidays and they make applesauce in the fall, paper snowflakes in the winter, and little bunnies with cotton ball tails in the spring.
For the most part, high school teachers do not have classrooms decorated for Thanksgiving or Valentine’s Day or make cutesy craft projects. But we are a creative bunch. We take vague state standards, the most current research from respected professionals, and whatever resources (high-tech or not-so-high-tech) we have available, and we create masterpieces of teaching. We care about “doing it right, or better.” We are creative.
I wish, sometimes, that I could take the blinders off my friends, family, and colleagues so they could see their own creativity. I wish that all people understood that they are creative, even if what they create doesn’t hang in a museum or get played by a symphony orchestra. I wish that others would believe, as I do, that we are all creative.
*note* This is an essay I wrote for the This I Believe. Sadly, they did not publish it, but, lucky you, now you get to read it.