Children, do you remember the story of the coming of human beings upon the earth? Perhaps you remember the three gifts that this new creature had that made life possible for it in the sometimes difficult and dangerous world in which it found itself. The human being had a mind that could imagine things that didn’t yet exist and skillful hands to bring those ideas into existence. And the human being had a deep need to be with other human beings, to find a life together, to share ideas and to work together to build and create and enjoy life– and, so, the human being had one more gift: the gift of a loving heart. Because of its wonderful capacity to imagine things, the human being could even love others who were not in its own family – even others whom it had never met. So, this is part of what it means to be human: to have these gifts. And we do all have them today, just as the first humans did!
Even before humans had the idea of writing things down, they were imagining and making and sharing. Sometimes we still find things they made tens or even hundreds of thousands of years ago – tools, shelter, clothing, jewelry, and even art and musical instruments. Even though these ancient people did not speak directly to us through writing, the things of theirs we find tell us much about them. For one thing, they tell us how very much like us they were. And we can also see how many things our ancient ancestors first imagined that are still part of our lives today – their gifts to us.
When someone thinks of something to make that is new – something that has never been made before or never been made in just that way, we say that the person who imagined it and made it is showing their human gift of creativity – because they have created something new.
Human creativity is expressed in many different ways. Sometimes people make new stories, and they become known as bards or storytellers; and if they know how to write, they write them down and become authors. People who make poems are called poets. Playwrights write new plays.
Sometimes people make up new music and become composers. Sometimes people draw or paint new images and become visual artists. Others know how to take clay or a big stone or a log and shape it into an interesting new shape – these we call sculptors. Still others train their bodies to become instruments of expression through movement and are called dancers. Architects are the people who think of new ways to make buildings of all kinds – and some of their creations last for thousands of years!
Creativity has been highly valued by people down through time, and highly creative people – people with lots of good ideas – have often been admired and supported by their society. Many civilizations have stories about their gods creating the universe, and human creativity has often been thought to be a gift of God or the gods – something that makes human beings almost god-like.
Nevertheless, people sometimes become very attached to their usual ways of thinking and doing things, and they may be startled or frightened or puzzled or even angry when a person comes along with a new idea. There are many stories of people having to wait a long time before their creations are fully appreciated by their communities.
Most people’s creativity doesn’t make them famous. They just create for the joy of it, because they enjoy the feeling of having a new idea or making something new, and because they want to contribute something valuable to their community or to the world. Everyone is creative some time about something. One special kind of creativity that many people have is called resourcefulness; that’s the ability to use whatever materials are at hand to solve a problem or get something done.
Can you think of a time when you were resourceful? How does your own creativity like to express itself? What areas of creativity have you not tried yet?
©2011 John R. Snyder From Issue 2, Fall 2011