Archive for July, 2010

Flags and Creativity?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
Cover of Newsweek magazine July 19, 2010

Nice Flag

The cover story of the July 19, 2010 edition of Newsweek, entitled The Creativity Crisis, had me riveted all week thinking about the premise that, “American creativity scores are falling.” Of course we couldn’t help but notice that the image used (at left) to visualize the subject matter was a flag. (Yes, that’s just about all we think about.)

So it was refreshing to see that, among the many hand-made presents one of my granddaughters made for my birthday last Saturday, were the following:

Emma's four flags

US, Colorado, Ireland (yes), Hawaii

The back of one of Emma's flags

The back of one of Emma's flags, showing the duct tape and flex-straw.

Often it’s best not to ask too many questions of a 7-year old, but rather simply stand in awe of what they can do if we get out of their way. Why she chose those particular flags? Why Ireland’s stripes are horizontal rather than vertical? These are but details in the grander scheme of wanting to create something for her grandpa.

And perhaps it was no coincidence that the Spanish “word for the day” at the Mexican restaurant that evening was popote.

All of this takes nothing away from the creativity of my adult friends, as evidenced by this beautifully woven sachet-like “bouquet” of lavender.

Bev's Lavender

Bev's Lavender

So, a decline in American creativity? Well that’s what the science is telling us: too much Internet and gaming makes us a little smarter, but also a little less creative. Maybe. But I’m not seeing it in my circles. Family and friends. That’s what it’s all about.

Random thoughts on Chaos

Friday, July 9th, 2010

From US Flag Day (14 JUN) to Canada Day (01 JUL) to US Independence Day (04 JUL); topped off with such international events as the (ongoing) World Cup (remember?), the US Open (no vuvuzelas!), Wimbledon, the (ongoing) Tour de France and who knows what-all else. Goodness. It’s no wonder that June and July are our busiest months of the year. People love to wave flags.

So you’ll forgive us, Dear Readers, if we took some time to slip away last weekend for a little family time near the southernmost point of Puget Sound in our neighboring state of Washington. (Our international visitors may want to consult Google Earth.) Some of our time was spent walking the shoreline at Priest Point Park.

It was on these walks that, unwinding a bit, the thoughts began to occur to me on the subject of “randomness”. The accompanying photos perhaps don’t capture the gestalt of the park, but they did speak to me of the beauty of apparent randomness. “Apparent” is emphasized because there is sure to be some controversy as to whether anything can be truly random. Don’t go there. Let’s just imagine that the universe has some sort of sliding scale from Chaos to Cosmos; from disorder to order. A lot of my work time is spent trying to organize things: orders, data, images, plans, physical things like inventory and supplies – just stuff. That’s on the “more orderly” side of the scale.

So it took a bit of time to shift gears and let myself re-learn to appreciate the beauty of the other end of the scale: the swirl of mossy seaweed and jetsam; the un-arrangement of stones; the intricacies of gnarled maple bark. It took some effort not to categorize, prioritize, or attach any value at all to any of the elements. And it’s not just about “nature”.

Random 4657-6Even man-made things are part of “nature”. In our more urban (and urbane) lives randomness can abound. Not just in the clutter of the office or home, but in the juggling of priorities, dates with friends, happenstance. There’s no way to completely “order” the universe. It’s already ordered. Our best hope is just to allow ourselves to adapt like the seaweed tossed on the shore. Do what we can to preserve our sanity, our community, and realize that, from some perspective, we’re part of some larger pattern that some might see as random; others might see it as part of a grander plan. Now: back to work.