Recently I had the privilege of watching creativity happen. It wasn’t a planned thing. There were no driving needs to create anything nor was there any schedule to get something done. What’s more, it was accomplished by four boys, aged seven to thirteen.
We were minding our four grandsons for three and a bit days, so all six of us were living in the close quarters of our home. This was a challenge for them as they are very energetic, busy little bodies, both physically and mentally. After playing with all the things they knew from previous visits, having several hours at the recreation centre where they were extremely active, playing hide and seek where they were able to find places to hide in our house that I never thought of, taking the youngest to emergency to get two stitches in his head after an accident playing hide and seek, and returning with the older boy twice to the recreation centre to find his forgotten winter jacket, they sat around for a bit contemplating what was next. The older lad, always dreaming a bit, thought up a role playing game and started developing it with the whole gang.
That was it. No more roaring around the house. They were completely engaged in this thing for hours and hours, all committed to playing and letting their minds wander into the corners of their imagination. Other than listening from time to time and taking a few photographs, I just stood back and took in what was happening. I should note that I have no idea how these games work. The thirteen year old said it was like Dungeons and Dragons, but that didn’t help me. I’ve never played that game. He said that his game was just another role playing game. I guess that was supposed to help me understand what was going on, but it didn’t.
However, that didn’t matter to me. I was more fascinated watching an act of creativity evolve. I tried to relate by remembering how some of my more identifiable creativity moments happened. What I concluded was that the one common feature involved being completely isolated from any other need or demand on my time. The consequence of that was that my mind was completely focussed on my act of creativity. The boys were in exactly the same mode.
They were so focussed that we had to drag them away to have breakfast, then drag them away again for lunch. I asked them all if they were bored with the game yet and they responded with a resounding “no”. I can’t remember when I’ve seen them remain inactive for such a long time. I’m not sure where the game will get to once they are involved with their normal days of schooling and chores, but I’ll be sure to ask when I see them next.
I asked if their game had a name. It did—Adventures in Ozmara. I asked how they thought up that name. The oldest boy said that, during their summer holidays a couple of years ago, they were having pretend sword fights with sticks. All their sticks kept breaking except for the youngest boy’s stick. He then came up with this mystic name for his stick. When asked, the youngest boy told me he had no idea where the name came from. He said it just popped into his head.
Another unabashed moment of unconscious creativity.
"Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value.”
Sir Ken Robinson