CreativityHave I been creative in life? Though not greatly endowed with talent, I have created some things which have continued to give me pleasure. I don't regret the many hours spent; in fact when the time comes to count the cost, creativity is a form of immortality, if only in the mind of the creator.
Here are some things which I believe were creative.
At age 15 I built my first guitar. It was such an exciting project I got up early and went to bed late, as I had making Meccano as a child, cutting and bending the raw wood that became a musical instrument. It had a curved fretboard, a feature I admired in guitars, and could be tuned just fine.
At about 14 I made an executive decision. Before that, the only entertainment I enjoyed was comedy shows on the radio. But then I heard a record called "Softly Softly" by Ruby Murray, and something clicked. I decided to go and buy the record, amd possibly start collecting records. That began one of my greatest pleasures. I was so fascinated by grooves, I dug them into my school desk.
So started a lifelong love of music, spanning pops to classics, and began a collection that now numbers thousands of items on shellac, reel-to-reel tape, vinyl, cassette and CD. I really enjoy taping my favourites. The first Grundig TK8 was replaced by a 4 track stereo Tandberg, and in 1980 (approx) my Revox A77 which serves me to this day. If ever I am alone, music will be my valued companion. My favourite musicians are the Beatles. With music nearby, I think I could handle any deprivation.
As a teenager I was into model aircraft, but my best achievement was a hovercraft, three feet across, powered by a diesel engine. It flew, but not for long, probably because the diesel was uncomfortable on its side.
In 1962, now in the Royal Navy, I bought an 8mm cine camera in Hong Kong. The first film was in B&W, and featured my young naval friends including Rob Walmsley and Bill Ellison in their lives in Singapore, including a train trip to the Batu caves at Kuala Lumpur, where I filmed a cow with five legs. The film has not deteriorated in 35 years (unlike videotape). This was the first of about 20 seven inch reels of film I took up to to about 1985, covering the childhood and development of the James and Debbie. All have a synchronized sound stripe soundtrack, which took ages to record - about an hour per minute of sound. As I watch these films now, I still get a tremendous kick out of re-living those times when the children were young and so beautiful. Unfortunately I only have four of the films and my trusty Eumig S710D in Canada; Penny has the rest, and I just hope she's keeping them safely. Watching the films has been a constant pleasure in my life, particularly now that so much has changed.
1n 1967 we bought our first house, a cottage in Wickham, Hampshire. For six months I was never out of overalls, constructing cupboards and painting. I fulfilled an ambition to build an outdoor model railway, 'O' gauge, with both live steam and electric locos. On one of the films is a ride around the track - the camera was on one of the carriages. This railway had remote operated double switchover points, built from scratch, as was all the layout, from brass rail and wooden sleepers set in concrete, which is probably still there. Now that's a form of immortality!
In 1995 I was introduced to the Internet by Derek Lawless. This has given me endless fun, and is a true outlet for creativity. I make all the decisions in this publishing firm! As with all the other examples, although part of me sought the acknowledgment of others, the pleasure it gives me is immense. Although this is the world wide web, I write it mainly for myself, and if you read it, you are the exception. Welcome to my not-so-private world! The Internet has become far my primary outlet for what little creativity I have.
On July 7, 2001 I had a thought that may be worth sharing. Laurie-Ann is creative, artistic and right-brained. She is also loath to put anything away - always has been since childhood according to a speech made by her uncle Fred at our wedding. Yet she is remarkable efficient in bringing to fruition quite complex events that she is passionate about. For instance at the time of writing she is planning a ministry trip to northern Kenya, which requires the skill of living in a primative society for three weeks, and raising money from supporters in Canada to pay for some of it. I would hardly know where to start such an exploit. Yet all is proceeding according to plan. The piles of papers surround her computer, and when she needs something, it is in the pile.
In contrast I am left-brained, analytical, reasonably tidy, and start every day clearing up the kitchen because I derive a good deal of pleasure from having things in their correct places. I have "where" files on my computer that tell me where everything is, and spreadsheets and lists for almost every part of my life. When I need to design a talk or plan a project, I use mind mapping, after reading Use Your Head by Tony Buzan decades ago. I have achieved little of value in my life save my current work with Alpha, and it was others who showed me that way. My attempts at writing are stilted and functional - like technical handbooks. I know I have no flair.
On that day, July 7, I decided to stop encouraging Laurie-Ann to spend time putting things away, but rather to help her feel comfortable with having what she needs around her. A house is not a display of order but a living place. I am sure I have already stunted some of her creativity by my drive towards order. I hope this revelation came in time.
This concept can be expressed in a new law:
I think of other creative people I know contributing towards society and I don't see a lot of tidiness and order.
I still remember hearing that when the great comedian Tony Hancock died, they found his electric shaver packed solid with shavings.
And I will stop feeling self-righteous about my own tendency to tidiness and just accept it for what it really is; a form of addiction that puts off the moments in the day when I actually have to think.