Four or five years back, when I wrote that book about Life, I called the final section Creativity and Creation. It began thus:
What have you made lately – a model; a cake; a piece of furniture; dinner; a mess…? I’ll bet you’ve done quite a bit of creating over the last week or so. And how did you do it? You got some stuff; you changed it in some way – maybe shaping or cutting, heating or cooling; you probably mixed it with, or joined it to other stuff and carried on changing or modifying it until your creation was complete.
OK, so you might be protesting that all you did was take a ready-meal out of the freezer, pierce the film lid and put it in the microwave, but you still created a hot, steaming meal out of a frozen lump. You created something by changing stuff. Hold that idea. Hold it nice and tight.
I knew – at an intuitive, rather than an intellectual level – that creating ‘stuff’ was important. Not just important, but vital. I also knew that it didn’t actually matter what you were creating. It could be a painting or a compost heap, a symphony or an ad on eBay. It was the creative process that mattered.
That idea came back to me a few weeks ago, when I was engaged in my latest hobby – creating miniature Steam Punk characters and their equipment from up-cycled dolls’ house dolls, wire, watch parts and the like.
It takes ages. I completely lose myself in the process and come as close to absolute happiness and satisfaction as is possible when I hit technical problems and find ingenious ways to overcome them. There’s a kind of excitement bubbling up inside me as the transformations take place. Yet that’s been tempered by a mocking voice from my rational mind:
“Why waste so much time on something this pointless? What use are they? Shouldn’t I be putting my energy into something more ‘worthy’?”
So the internal dialogue has been going. I can’t deny the rational thoughts. No one needs a 1/12 scale Steam Punk figure. Yet at some very deep level I have known that the process of creating them – battling with the limitations of the materials and my skills – is hugely important to me. I have felt the same as I did when renovating my dilapidated cottage – an initial mental image of how I want the finished product to look, a moment of doubt when I compared that idea to the reality of the items strewn around me, an intense fixation on the eventual result, an unshakeable belief that it would all work out perfectly and – finally – jubilation at having created the end product.
It needed a mind and voice more finely tuned than my own to put the importance of ‘You the Creator’ into its true perspective. I found these words in The Afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher:
It is the tension between the search for fulfilment or perfection and the actual performance possible in the physical world that promotes creative acts as they are understood. For true creativity always destroys limitations and increases the mental, spiritual, psychic or physical areas of expression open to man.
That’s it. It applies as much to the time warping experiments I’m engaged in with William to the little figures I’m building in my study. It applies to every creative process you are engaged in, too.
I think therefore I am; I create, therefore I am The Creator – and so are you.