Here is a phrase you hear daily: “Think outside the box.” Interesting how we, as a society, must be reminded to do just that. Creativity is dying on the vine. And we need to do something about it.
Give a toddler a box and watch the child do the following, in no particular order. Hold it up. Fling it around. Flip it over. Look in it. Fall into it. Sit in it. Hide in it or under it. Scoot around in it. Throw it. Kick it. Crush it. And a really persistent child will end up destroying it. This is rudimentary creativity at work. An unspoiled, untrained mind goes in a multitude of directions. The box is not just a box to that child. The possibilities are endless.
Give a teenager or an adult that same box. The first question asked: “What do you want me to do with this?” If the question remains unanswered, the person will most likely decide to use it to hold miscellaneous junk or dispose of the box in the nearest recycle bin.
Music and art programs are being cut nationwide. And the latest trend of removing handwriting from grammar schools’ curricula is becoming more widespread. That is a travesty—plain and simple. There is nothing more personal or creative than your handwriting. Whether you have neat penmanship or an illegible scrawl, your written words, and more importantly—your signature, represent your true essence. Ask any handwriting expert.
But how can we insist that people think outside the box when we no longer provide the tools to accomplish that task? Children and adults alike are glued to computers, televisions and cell phones. We claim we are “connected” and have never been closer. But nothing could be further from the truth. We need to unplug from the electronic world and get back to basics.
Creativity springs from the imagination. There is no better way to accomplish this than by using your senses.
Consider, for instance, the street you walk down every day. You might look or glance at the familiar surroundings. But do you really see what is there?
Throughout the day, you hear noise all around, but do you listen to the individual, unique sounds?
You take a break and lean against a brick wall, but do you feel its varied texture?
Rushed for time, you eat a meal in your car, but do you taste each delectable flavor?
And as corny as it might sound, when was the last time you stopped to smell the roses?
Great works have been, and will continue to be, produced as a result of what an artist, writer or musician felt, saw, heard, smelled or tasted.
Think about your senses as you go through the rest of today. Close your eyes. Take a deep cleansing breath. Exhale and expel the tension and negativity. Push aside the age of the Internet and instant gratification. Our minds are becoming numb and dull. Before we know it, so will our souls. And then creativity will be all but lost.
So, the next time someone hands you a box, what are you going to do with it?
Copyright © 2013 Suzanne Purewal