This past September weekend was a very busy one. For five days straight, I spent time with many, many – say it again – many family members and friends, met with tons of acquaintances, and completed all kinds of activities that brought all walks of my life together. People were in and out of my home. We served meals, refreshed the laundry, and arranged and re-arranged our home as needed. The purpose of all the activity was pure enjoyment with every motion made set to encourage positive results. And I honestly believe that at the end of this particular stretch of time, fun was had by all.
But, at the end, I paused . . . and I am still pausing. After all was said and done, I knew that I needed to do a little self-check on the lens that I use to see everything.
Through my usual lens, my life is rather rosy. I have four wonderful children – who are all well-educated, who are doing well financially, and who have fairly rosy lives themselves. I live in a very comfortable home – and want for nothing. I am surrounded by all that is good. I travel . . . a lot. I spend a couple of weeks in the mountains, a couple weeks on the beach, time in various metropolitan areas, and time in great Americana spots. I have favorite breakfast spots that aren’t just at the area covered by my kitchen table. Two very nice folks clean my home on a bi-weekly basis. I don’t mow the lawn. I have easy access to health care. My cars are bright and shiny, are parked in a garage, and when broken are repaired by someone else. I have money in my checking account at all times. My retirement plans are going well.
I exercise everyday – because I have time and the means to do so. I use a dry cleaner who brings my stuff to my house when it is ready. A young person delivers the newspaper to my doorstep, daily. I own and display seasonal decorations, and have storage space to keep them looking new and organized. I have a big, giant family. And all of my brothers and sister have homes that have at least four bedrooms, countless bathrooms, two car garages, and extra refrigerators. And of that group, several of us have advanced degrees, all of us have undergraduate degrees, and all children among us have gone to college or are planning on going to college; and, all have parents and relatives who are totally and passionately involved in their lives – supporting them every step of the way.
I have more than one pair of tennis shoes – just for running. I save one dollar coins on a whim, wear matching underwear just because, and have a ginormous backyard deck. My home has air-conditioning, tons of extra toilet paper, a pantry full of food, high-speed internet, and kitchen gadgets for every and any purpose known to humankind. My wardrobe changes with the season.
And due to all of this – coupled with all the motion and commotion at my house during that five-day period in September – I paused. For quite awhile. For, there is another more challenging lens that is often obscured by my rosy one previously described – especially when I am in the middle of such frenzied activity.
I paused because I know and needed to remember that there are thousands and thousands of folks who are hoping to find food for tonight’s dinner meal. They don’t have homes or cars or educational opportunities. They certainly don’t have decks or seasonal decorations, or storage space, matching underwear, or kitchens. They struggle with family and friends. In fact, there are children begging for attention from anyone – any family member – any friend – and there are adults begging for the same. The only clothes they have are the items they are wearing. They can’t save coins . . . they can’t save anything for their immediate needs are too great. They use pencils because they can’t afford pens. The only vacations they take may be those taken during their best daydreams. Newspapers aren’t delivered, garages aren’t attached to their homes, and they have no need for extra refrigerators as they have a tough time filling one, let alone two. Healthcare is a challenge.
So I paused.
Through the summer of 2012 in another part of my world, I have been intentionally pondering over the term creativity. What does it mean? Where does it come from? How can I learn to open myself up to becoming a more creative individual? Where is it most prominent? Who are the experts? How is it reflected in me and how can I strengthen my focus on it. And suddenly – because I took a moment to pause – I may have gotten closer to the answers.
In all my wondering about and wandering with creativity, I might have been on an erroneous path. While pausing, I had a moment to reflect, to consider the other side. And I learned that I have examined creativity using only one lens. . . instead of many.
I am finding that when I look through the lens that is not so rosy, I see the creativity that people use just to make it to tomorrow. I see folks finding solutions to problems that I can only imagine. I see folks doing things differently not because of want, but because of need. I see folks making their worlds keep spinning in any way possible, and hoping to affect change in their lives by doing so. Their creativity is ingenious. And as far as I can see, their greatness in this area has to come from their ability to face adversity and survive.
For me, I learned that the source of creativity is more than just one lens. It is more than just two, and very likely it is found in hundreds of lenses. I just need to make sure that my eyes are open and ready to see.