Creativity Solves Interesting Problems

By Patrick McNerthney 


Sometimes people say to me, “Wow, that’s really creative!” Usually it’s in response to an elaborate excuse I’ve concocted to get out of doing something that’s not on my list of favorites,  like mowing the lawn, ala:

“Sorry honey, can’t mow today, the neighbors have family visiting from Bolivia and they brought a newborn with them who really needs to sleep after the long flight (not to mention the exhausted parents) and who can sleep through the mower racket our old lawn mower makes…?” 

Or performing (obligatory) volunteer work at my son’s school, ala:

“Sorry vice principal Hinckley, I threw my back out helping my neighbor’s drag away a redwood that fell across their front door and of course they have family coming all the way from Bolivia so it was a kind of emergency…”

(You see trees, I see excuses.)

Other times, the excuse is about stuff I write. And while I always dig for compliments (who doesn’t?), it’s important to speak the truth about what creativity really means. It starts with solving problems WE, individually, find interesting. (By the way, that’s my “secret.” I’m not more creative than anybody. I just finally found a great use for telling stories: problem solving!)

So yes, we’re all born creative, and we use creativity every day in our own way. Consider my plumber. He had to use his creativity to fix my broken sewer line, which he finds interesting: “How do I get to the pipe without completely destroying Patrick’s back deck? Hmmmm…”. (We all know some damage is inevitable—hey, he’s  a plumber, not a superhero!) 

And then there’s my boss, who had to use her creativity to cover another writer’s maternity leave: “Hmmm, how do I find another good writer when I don’t have the time to advertise the position, interview people, check out their backgrounds…oy vey!” She finds building and managing teams for private companies interesting.

Yet some people remain afraid of the word, or they’re convinced they don’t have it. People say things like, “I’m not the creative one—now my sister, she’s a real artist.” 

Maybe they were told only painters and sculptors are creative when they were in grade school. Maybe it’s just a misconception. But it’s not true. Accountants, computer programmers, statisticians, school administrators, your mom – they’re all creative every day, because they find THE RIGHT problems to solve; the ones they, as individuals, find interesting.

(This is not interesting to me at all. But for some people, it’s heaven.)

Your residents and loved ones are creative too. You know that–b-ut maybe the stress and anxiety of social isolation has led them to believe they are not. Or, more likely, it’s contributed to them losing touch with what they find interesting,making it harder for them to find inspiration.

And just maybe they’d find the challenge of moving in time with music through Dance & Movement Therapy interesting, or transforming a blank page into something magical through Art Therapy.  It’s hard to say, but that’s why Fine Art Miracles (FAM)

is here to help. FAM’s services run the gamut of “interesting” – Music Therapy, ART2GO packages, Multi-Sensory Sessions- if you reach out, FAM can help you find the right fit.  

But what’s the real point of solving interesting problems with creativity? It’s the same for all of us (including the elderly, children with challenges, or whomever you serve). It connects our minds with our self-worth, confidence, sense of mastery, and ability to live a joyful life in the face of adversity. Who doesn’t need more of that? 

Well, I have some clean up to do. Yesterday I spent ALL DAY moving a pile of landscape rock back and forth under the supervision of my wife for a “spruce up the yard” kind of thing. Indeed, my creativity failed me as I couldn’t come up with an excuse to get out of it. Oh well, I needed the exercise. I guess.



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