Staying creative

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Creativity’s a funny thing. We talk about it as if it’s a limited resource, but sometimes it’s more like a chemical reaction that, once it gets going, expands and sustains itself.

Mrs K’s great-uncle recently died. I only met him a few times, but I always found him inspiring. He spent his career as a doctor, but in his spare time he was always creating – welding, gardening, inventing, picking up hobbies and crafts like a toddler picks up carpet fluff. This was a guy who, in his late eighties, invented a device for helping patients sit themselves up in hospital beds. When Mrs K and I got married, he turned a cava bottle into a vase as a present, and engraved it with the date of our wedding. He might as well have engraved it with ‘I am eighty-eight, and I am still the most awesome person here’.

Not shown: the sixty-seven other things he created that day
Uncle Charles’s creativity wasn’t a limited resource that kept running out. It was the fuel that sustained him, that kept him lively and engaged with the world until a sudden and brutal cancer took him at the age of ninety-two. Creating things spurred further creativity in him, and gave him the energy to keep going.

I suspect that the same happens, in little ways, to all of us. I know that by the time I finish one blog post I’ve come up with ideas for three more. Nothing inspires me to write like doing some writing. Creating makes me feel alive, whether it’s planting the garden, cooking an interesting dinner, or writing a story about Victorian adventurers fighting giant rats. If we horde and defend our creativity it withers. If we use it, even when getting started feels like a struggle, it will sustain us.

So here’s to you Charles, inspiring me once again. And to the rest of you, get out there and create. Make a collage. Write a poem. Draw a picture in ketchup on your fried egg sandwich. These are the things we live for.

Mm, fried egg sandwich.