I was almost ready to abandon Imagine by Jonah Lehrer, but this morning, Lehrer writes about the natural curve of creativity – an inverted “U”: it rises in youth and begins to diminish in middle age. The assumption, he says, is that diminishing creativity is part of the aging process. But then, in investigating exceptions to this phenomenon, he noted that surging creativity of youth is due to the fact that as they approach problems that need solving, they are still outsiders, coming at problems without experience, with new eyes. As a person works in a particular field, becoming an expert, one loses the newness. Lehrer suggests that the decline can be reversed by getting away from one’s usual routine and environment through travel, making new friends, engaging in new activities or changing career. Creativity increases, he says, as one experiences difference. “We need to change cultures, to feel the disorientating diversity of human traditions.”
Lehrer’s words make me think of the predictability in my life: my house, family, the people is see on a daily basis, the familiar tasks of my day-to-day life. Yesterday, I managed to force myself to clean a bathroom but then couldn’t bring myself to clean a floor at the back entrance to our house. Full of boredom, I collapsed into lethargy. I wanted to hop in the car and go somewhere – anywhere.
At my husband’s prodding, we are purchasing all new appliances. The washer and dryer come Thursday. I don’t know yet when the refrigerator and stove come. I have no enthusiasm for any of this. I have been cooking and doing laundry for 50 years. Different appliances to do the work don’t interest me. I have taken to zoning out in front of the TV. I think I am looking to find something interesting and y’all know that is a not going to happen.
A friend of mine is going on a service trip to a reservation in South Dakota. It has been years since I did something like that and my first reaction was to doubt my own physical stamina that I knew the trip would demand. But, meditating this morning, I wonder if I am allowing my new problems with knees and hips to limit me. Both are fine today. That is not always the case and I am thinking I have to be spontaneous if I want any more adventure in my few years left. “Make hay when the sun shines” can be interpreted: “Go explore when you feel up to the challente.” Spontaneity has not been my strength over the years. I have always been a long-range planner, always keeping in mind my responsibility and promises. Perhaps that has to change.
Well, Lehrer has me thinking about my life. And just thinking about the possibility of new adventures is getting the creative juices flowing. I wrote this blog, didn’t I.