Creativity is imagination at work. This combination of individuality and innovation is as unique as each of us. It represents originality. It is one of our most treasured traits, and if we are not careful, we will lose it.
Every day on the walls of our digital worlds, we have the chance to encounter whimsy and wonder. Fast internet and faster social media connects us to artists creating galaxies from spray paint, engineers custom-building computers, designers up-cycling tacky suits into runway-ready dresses, and planners crafting picture-perfect parties.
Platform after platform gives us the ability to engage with high-resolution flights of fancy, to collect ideas and gather inspiration. Yet, while likes, shares, and retweets give us a unique language for sharing and supporting creativity, they also give us on the other side of the screen a reason to disqualify ourselves from it. Little by little, we tell ourselves creativity must be validated, recognized, and perhaps most dangerously of all, paid. If a passion can’t win us followers, fame, or fortune, should we spend time on it?
When we’re little, we make forts out of pillows, pies from mud, and art galleries in legal pads. We dream of becoming astronaut ballet teachers and artist doctors—daring mishmashes that barely encompass all we want to be when we grow up. Yet, somewhere along the way, we grow self-conscious. We start to feel the importance of knowing and that if we are meant to pursue something, it will come easily for us.
Faced with the daily pressure of expertise, we are terrified to be amateurs.
However, curiosity—not knowing—is the prerogative of the creative person. The results we marvel at began with someone thinking, “What if I tried this?” Like a cat, curiosity explores the undersides of everyday expectations and tips over the boxes we live in.
Yes, some might say. And curiosity killed the cat.
There is risk in creativity. Imagination is messy. Paints so easily run together. Seams have to be torn out and sewn again. But just as the joy of a hike is not simply the view from the summit, what our hands and our hearts learn from the endeavor is more than the end result. Being creative means enjoying the journey, experimenting, wondering, learning, and simply trying.
It’s time we reclaimed inspiration for what it was meant to be. Instead of being content to simply curate creativity, let us delve right in up to our elbows. Let us bring creativity back into our days by celebrating it in our own lives. Build, write, paint, photograph, and dance because you are curious. Do them badly and learn to do them better, but in everything, try.
We should remember the second half of the saying, lost somewhere along the way: Curiosity did kill the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.