Stand On Your Desk
I always seem to start here
Whenever I think about discussing the subject of creativity, I always go back to the same thought. In the movie “Dead Poet’s Society” John Keating (played by the late, great Robin Williams) jumps up onto his desk in front of the students in his class. the following exchange ensues:
KEATING "Why do I stand up here? Anybody?" CHARLIE "To feel taller." KEATING "No!" Keating rings the bell on his desk with his foot KEATING "Thank you for playing, Mr. Dalton. I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way."
This, I believe, is at the heart of this idea that we so loosely label “creativity”. The first thing we need to do, is look at things. Consciously. Purposefully. Next, we must look at them differently, in a way that we seldom, or perhaps never, have before.
In order to create, we must be aware. Aware of what we see, feel, taste, hear and smell. Aware of the limitations of our personal perspective. Aware of the uniqueness of our personal perspective. Aware of the large and small changes of the things in our field of view.
Do you like paintings, sketches, photography or sculpture? Why? What is it that you see in these things that gives you pleasure? “I don’t know” is an answer that leads nowhere. Find out. Look more carefully. Compare a work you like with one you dislike. What are the differences?
How about food? Music? Writing? Ira Glass points out that we start out with killer taste, but must learn to understand why one thing is “good” and another “not good”, at least in our opinion.
How can we learn this? by observing closely and thinking about what we observe. Ponder over the details. Fortunately, while this can be hard work, it’s work we are all naturally suited for.