There’s an old saying that goes: “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”
But if you give someone who is hungry right now the option to either go learn how to fish or to take the fish you already have, they will almost always pick the easier option.
Creativity is the same way.
You and I are fortunate to live in a time where most things just work. Particularly if you’re reading this: life isn’t too shabby. You have access to the Internet, so there’s that, which also means you likely have access to warmth and shelter.
For many of us we have luxuries too: automobiles with air-conditioning, supercomputers that fit in our hand, complex meals that can be “cooked” in just a few minutes by a machine sitting in our kitchens, on and on the list goes.
For those who fit into this category, we are the ones being asked whether we’d like to learn how to fish, or simply eat the fish being presented to us. That is to say: when everything is being handed to us, why would we choose to question anything, to find alternatives, or to dream of new and wondrous things?
Creativity requires that we don’t simply accept everything being handed to us. Instead: creativity means we must take the time to stop and think about what is going on around us, why we do the things we do the way we do them, and if there might be better or more magical things out there waiting to be discovered.
The artist paints to create a new reality, not merely to accept the one he or she has been given. The inventor designs ways for life to be lived, sometimes that makes it easier and sometimes not. The poet gives a sharp eye to the humanity of life, dotting each attribute many of us tend to overlook simply because we can’t be bothered to do so.
To be creative is to not simply accept everything around you for the way it is. You must look at everything closely, always questioning, always dreaming of better and different ways to do, think, feel, taste, hear, and experience. It’s from that constant curiosity and exploration that the best ideas bloom.
As Steve Jobs once famously quipped:
“Stay hungry. Stay foolish”
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Photo by Jamison Wieser.