On Being Creative

There appears to be a creativity gene that runs in my family. One of my brothers, from a very young age, clearly saw the world differently from the rest of us. He would ask questions like, “If I bounced this ball high enough, could it hit a cloud?”, or, “if our dog’s legs were taller, would she have to kneel down to drink out of her water dish?” To which, being the compassionate and loving big sister that I am, I would roll my eyes and give him a curt and possibly slightly contemptuous reply of, “No.” Ironically, I remember sharing these stories with my eleventh grade art teacher in a joking, isn’t that cute tone, and her reply set me on my heels. “Your brother is a genius.” Huh. I hadn’t thought of it that way. Maybe I wasn’t seeing the whole picture here.

This anecdote about sums up the way I view the world and the way he does. For me, the world is black and white, yes or no, frivolous speculation about the impossible or scientifically-justified reality. If there are rules to be followed, bubbles to fill in, a nice survey to take, I am your girl! For him, there’s this incredible spectrum of gray and possibility in between the black and white. Rules are mere guidelines, best reflected on after you have taken action (for better or worse). He sees an old tree stump as a blank canvas, and a chainsaw as a tool to create something beautiful and unexpected. Matt has developed into an incredibly talented chainsaw carver, painter, and artist. Total genius.

Whittle the Wood Carving
Matt’s Winning Carving at the Whittle the Wood Competition in Craig, CO

Meanwhile, our middle brother, Alec, has turned his high school days spent strumming an unamplified electric guitar (because no one (namely our parents) wanted to hear the noise) into an actual, bonafide profession as a touring rock musician. He is the lead singer and songwriter of this little known indie band called Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. When I say little known, I mean like by people like me who totally bring down the cool factor at his shows. David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, those folks, on the other hand…well, see for yourself.

So, needless to say, people ask me all the time, “What do you do that’s creative?” Until recently, my reply was always something along the lines of, “Ummm, I have zero artistic ability. I am really organized though. That’s kind of my special gift.” That’s a true fact. I am super organized. And if you want to get something done, I am reliable as all get out. But, creative? As I think I’ve mentioned, I am more of a to-do-list-as-guide kind of person. Things get really spicy when my “to do” list flows onto a second post-it note.

But here I am, stretching my creative wings, and realizing that years and years and more years of writing in a journal (most of which need to be burned, but some that contain actual depth and insight) and reading countless books eventually adds up to a few ideas and maybe a writing style. Maybe the creative gene didn’t fully pass me by! It helps that I’ve also been practicing seeing the gray in life, in general, and not taking life as seriously as I did as a kid. And, better yet, I actually love the effort of coming up with an idea and crafting a story. An unexpected plus has been that flexing my creative muscles affords a whole new dimension to my relationship with my brothers as well. They have become a sweet cheering section of 2, encouraging me onward in this endeavor.

So, with that, happy siblings day to my two very creative and very awesome brothers! Rest assured that while I may be a more fun, creatively inclined, and wittier version of the younger me, the eye roll is still very much intact.

Go forth and create! The world needs more creativity and out-of-the-box thinking!