The elusiveness of creativity
For a while I’ve been studying creativity.
In particular I’ve been trying to understand what makes it ebb and flow as it does.
In the first lockdown, Spring sun shining, novelty abounding, family life felt creative.
We did science experiments, made treasure maps, climbed trees, built dens, fashioned a zipwire out of string, took long nature walks in search of butterflies, played with the dog, baked, cooked, drew all over the walls and made elaborate birthday video messages for family and friends. Bedtimes were late. When the screens went off the pens came out, and we would draw things, make things, build things.
In my mind that time was a period during which we all came together. Our family held a sense of community.
Don’t get me wrong, there were still fights and frustrations, tensions and screen time worries, but on the whole we had fun with our newfound togetherness.
I’ve been trying to get us back there ever since.
At first I thought maybe it was a seasonal issue. The winter lockdown we went through was bound to be different because we were more limited in our activities.
Then I blamed the house renovations.
It got progressively dustier, noisier and messier as time went on, and as the novelty wore off even drawing on the walls lost its appeal.
My husband went back to work and his evenings and weekends were taken up with the renovations, so time together became scarce.
Optimism about the prospect of unschooling the children (into which I’d done a lot of research and for a while was pretty confident about), was replaced with fear, and I began to wonder how I ever even entertained the idea.
The children were mostly getting in from school, going on their screens and barely getting off until bedtime, no matter what new things I tried to divert them.
Our camper van holiday was a welcome change and gave us all a chance to reconnect, but as soon as we got home YouTube and Friends episodes resumed as if the kids were making up for lost time.
But then something shifted…
I can’t explain it, but I know that I felt it, witnessed it and was part of it.
I connected with my daughter first.
She was in her room listening to music. She’s getting into all things eighties and I remembered she’d asked me if I’d make her a Metallica playlist, but I hadn’t got round to it. I joined her on her bed and offered to do it and we spent an hour chatting and listening to music.
I showed her my camper van blog and then she announced she had a story idea and proceeded to work on writing it.
During this time I would have expected my son to have defaulted to factory settings and opened the ipad, but he built a den!
Then he thrust a paper and pen at me and issued me with a drawing challenge.
The last couple of hours before bed melted away in a haze of writing, chatting and drawing, just like we used to in my golden-tinged memories of the first lockdown, eighteen months ago.
I’m reminded of something I’ve read a lot about in my research into unschooling: seasons. Unschooling families talk about living through different seasons, and this doesn’t always mean the weather (though there’s an acknowledgement that winter generally brings a slowing down).
More than that, it’s an awareness that the needs and priorities of family life shift and change over time, and to be open and accepting of these shifts, and readjust accordingly.
What could be perceived as problems in one season are often non existent in the next, sometimes all that’s needed is a bit of perspective: a focus on the long game.
In short, go with the flow.
Perhaps I should remember this the next time creativity seems elusive.
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