Detail of “Jump” – Creativity Card, Transformational Tarot © Aliyah Marr

Detail of “Jump” – Creativity Card, Transformational Tarot © Aliyah Marr

People a lot talk these days about “creative problem-solving.” But to many artists, creativity isn’t really much about problem-solving at all. Pure creativity (non-commercial art forms) is not about fixing something, but about creating something that wasn’t there before.

In the sphere of pure creativity there are no problems at all — problems are in the realm of those misguided left-brained individuals who are merely trying to think creatively. As Einstein says “you can’t solve a problem with the mind that created it”.

The operative word here is “problem”. In order to truly think creatively, one must return to the mindset of a child. Children play. There are no problems in the world of play, only fun and imagination.

Creativity is play without purpose. Creativity is essentially free play, play free of judgments, free of mental constraints or goals.

This idea is frightening to that part of us — the “adult” self — which is guarding us from the evil of the world, the rigid protector or guard that doesn’t understand that it is no longer functioning as a benign guardian and is actually slowing killing that which it is trying to protect. How many of us feel trapped by our own minds? Isn’t this ennui the real reason for desiring the temporary release that drugs or sex can give us?

Going back to the example of the child playing — is failure even an option? Is success even a goal? Of course that is ridiculous — there is no purpose or goal to play. And the reward is simply the pleasure in the doing.

Fortunately, we can remember what it is like to play, and make it a big part of our lives. Adults, once they are set again on the path of creative play can suddenly feel that the world just suddenly “goes their way” and serendipitous things just start to happen. Somehow, just by allowing oneself to do what one loves, one automatically becomes more skillful at the endeavor.

I have noticed this time and time again when coaching others. The blockage is there only when one regards what one is doing as odious work. Once it is regarded as play, it becomes interesting: once a certain skill in the subject is learned, it even becomes fun.

In the life of a creative child, she wakes up in great anticipation of a day spent playing. She doesn’t anticipate problems or worry about how she will play or arrive at any solutions. She doesn’t plan her play, time it, or even organise it. She just starts. Any decision that she has to make is instantaneous, sometimes unconsciously innovative, always imaginative.

If her decision doesn’t work, she just makes another one. If she had a more specific idea and it doesn’t work out in the way she had foreseen, then she is just as happy to play in a new way suggested by the turn of events. (see “happy accident”). In a world of creativity, the point isn’t any goal or solution, the biggest decision amounts to what one wants to play with next.

Copyright 2009 Aliyah Marr