When my copy of “Creative is a Verb” arrived, it caused me to reflect on creativity. What am I doing to bring creativity into my life? In addition to being part of two quilt guilds and participating in challenges, knitting, and submitting art work for Patti Digh’s books, I realized that there is a lot of creative activity in my life.
Part of creativity, for me, is finding new ways to look at the world. It’s so easy to become jaded, complacent, to drive down the highway and not notice the trees as they begin to change their greens to red, gold, orange, and brown. In fact, one reason I like to take the back roads when I go from facility to facility for work is to see the trees, the light, the shadows, and the farm stands. I need these visual moments of relaxation to help me let go of my last encounters and open myself up for the next ones.
On vacation this summer I found another different way to look at the world. We were spending 5 days in London. We’ve been before and I have taken the touristy pictures – Big Ben, London Bridge, the Tower of London. I’ve also taken a lot of photos of pub signs. So this summer I was not, initially, taking pictures. Then we went to a gallery near King’s Cross. As we were walking afterward to the British Library, I began to look at the signs on the buildings – the fonts, the colors (colours, that is,) the sizes of the letters. I decided that this time, my London photos would capture the variety in the alphabet I was seeing around me. This, of course, led me to decide that I needed to capture the entire alphabet. I needed as many colors, shapes, and fonts possible to illustrate the city I was walking through.
I was taking pictures of pub signs, street signage, business names, historic sites – anything that caught my eye. Some letters were easy to find. Others were much harder. The “x” was particularly difficult. Before I found it, I notices the “x”es in a wrought iron fence and a window frame. Then I saw an “s” in a fence railing. Before long I was looking for fonts and signs, and I was also looking for “inadvertent letters.”
By the time my vacation was over, I had my “A – Z” pictures of London and I was on my way to also having an “A – Z” in objects and nature. This has continued since I’ve been home. I see the “n” in the crossbars supporting a chain link fence, a “z” in a New York City fire escape, a “v” in a parquet floor.
Although I’ve found my first alphabet, I’m still looking. I’m seeing the structure of highway signs, not just the exit names and numbers. I see the letter “a” in the sawhorses blocking off a detour. I’m not thinking about the annoyance of being caught in traffic or having to alter my route. Instead I am excited by the unexpected, unplanned alphabet I’m seeing around me. And I’m wondering if I can find the Hebrew letters of the aleph bet as well.
This wasn’t how I was viewing the world a month and a half ago. It may not be how I’m viewing the world a month and a half from now. Right now, however, it’s one of the new ways I’m being creative in my daily life.