We were the lucky recipients of two tickets to a Smithsonian lecture “Cultivating Creativity” by Dr. Barry Gordon, a doctor and neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins. He covered a lot of ground in just 2 hours in terms of teaching us how the brain works and how sometimes creativity is the result.
As a warm-up exercise he entertained the audience with the famous picture from Saint-Exupery’s Le Petit Prince which at first glance looks like a common brown hat, but which turns out to be an elephant inside a boa constrictor.
After exploring the rudiments in how the brain thinks, we moved on to focus on creativity. He debunked a few commonly held myths, such as
-- Creative processes are somehow separate and unique from normal mental processes.
-- Creativity is mostly for the young.
-- The right brain is the creative one.
He said the real key to creativity is letting go of constraints. That’s why some of our most powerful and creative thoughts are while we are sleeping.
Another piece of the puzzle is having more thoughts from which to choose and being able to choose wisely. He noted that while you might have a lot of thoughts while under the influence of certain drugs, your ability to choose wisely is often impaired.
It was about that time that I began to think about my upcoming creativity challenge. Rayna of Studio 78 Notes invited her readers to play with some squares from an old quilt top she recently found.
All of a sudden as the speaker talked about creativity, I had a series of ideas about what to do with the blue and yellow print fabric. Every time he would give an example, another possibility emerged in my head.
I started off with a kindergarten-style picture of flowers growing on a green hill with a blue sky. This gave way to things in the air -- a kite, a butterfly, a bird, a red balloon. The elephant inside the boa took a turn. Random X’s and O’s with a single asterisk. Hands reaching into the center from all directions. The bridge symbols. The Olympic links. And more.
It was just when the speaker was giving his concluding remarks that I looked at him once again and came up with my idea. It may not be what was intended, but I think it’s creative. We will see. He did say that part of creativity was accepting failure.
What an interesting way to spend the evening as I multi-tasked my way through the 2-hour lecture and tried it out at the same time.