Novelty and originality are trademarks and characteristics of creative thought processes, writes Ravi Valluri
Just like that one day, an apple fell into the lap of Isaac Newton and he went on to famously developed the Theory of Gravity. ‘Life is either a great adventure or nothing,’ Hellen Adam Keller was to pen these iconic lines in her prime.
‘Imagination is more important than knowledge,’ wrote the father of the Theory of Relativity. Yes, the German born physicist was a pillar of modern physics and a noted pianist and violinist.
How do we separate these legendary figures from the jejune and quotidian individuals? How do these prodigious, incredible and astonishing individuals manage to take the world by storm and stamp their footprints on the sands of time? There must be something remarkable in the grain of their personalities that they can upend the pyramid and remove demons.
Let us map a creative mind. The hallmark of an innovator mind is that it is brim-full of ideas and is a ‘Yes’ mind. It braces to face a gauntlet of challenges and is blessed with imagination, curiosity and originality.
Aeons ago lived a Zen Master. He had four tutees. One day, following the command of their Master they embarked upon a journey. Suddenly they were caught in the vortex of a storm and the weather became extremely tempestuous and chilly. To warm themselves they built a protective cover of fire. Soon they began haranguing about the merits and demerits of objectivity and subjectivity.
Soon the wrangling reached a feverish pitch. A senior monk who was meditating at a distance, began observing the squabble and started meditating on the sound. He continued to sport a beatific smile as he remained unperturbed and was only observing the process of inhalation and exhalation.
Upon completing his meditation, the senior monk sauntered to the four disarranged and muddled up minds. He ventured to ask them, ‘There is a colossal stone. Do you consider it within or outside the boundary of your mind?’ In unison, they answered that from the Buddhist viewpoint every aspect of life is an objectification of the human mind, therefore the gargantuan stone would be embedded inside the mind.
The Zen Master wryly smiled and uttered, ‘Your heads would be extremely ponderous and opaque with the weight of the stone.’ And he slowly disappeared into a nearby thicket. The young tutees were ashen faced and scrambled back to their temple of knowledge where the Zen Master directed his pupils to resume their meditations.
A creative mind is not a febrile or a condensed one but open to ideas and always ready to acquire fresh inputs. It is not a fossilised mind but a greenfield one which is ready to alter the paradigm and existing covenants.
An admirable and worthy school was organising a function. It was the diktat of the Principal that a set of one act plays be staged. And the administration barely gave ten days for the preparation and staging of the productions. Many teachers were skittish and lily-livered about the prospects of the success of the project. These hesitant and rabbity teachers discovered a plethora of excuses to derail the project. They tried everything from subterfuge to exculpation to scuttle the programme. However, those blessed with robust and intrepid minds were not given to bleach or blink at the assigned task. For taking up responsibility empowered them. Much to chagrin of their compatriots they decided to stage a set of one act plays for the school day. They stimulated their minds and summoned requisite hardihood to identify prospective actors among the students.
Thus, these intrepid teachers could identify the problem, quantify and represent the possible misadventure, plan and execute plausible solutions, evaluate short term and long-term objectives and goals. They fortified their minds to evaluate the possible eventualities and in the amphitheatre of their minds they were mentally prepared with an array of all possibilities. This typified their tenacity, pugnacity and venturesome attitude.
They were blessed with creative minds as their prana/ energy levels was at a high frequency or at the upper end of the auditory range of courage.
Creative minds are normally wagers, who have the chutzpah to think of out-of-the-box solutions. But it is not essential that every creative activity needs to be an unusual or exceptional event. Routine, everyday activities such as writing, teaching, cooking, role playing, parenting, babysitting, storytelling, conversing, attempting to solve our daily chores, organising activities and participating in family and societal events, resolving conflicts or merely posing questions can be made prepossessing and riveting.
These ordinary incidents of our lives can be made exotic and engaging provided we give our hundred percent and create an ‘Aha!’ moment. This captivates and ensnares the human mind. Everyday creativity is equally gripping and gut-busting as special talent creativity.
But in the long haul, creative thinking is embarking upon novel and unusual solutions to variegated problems and misadventures in life. Novelty and originality are trademarks and characteristics of creative thought processes. Year after year humans procure new smart phones, watches, house-hold appliances, cars, scooters among others. Why? The mind gets ensnared by novelty, originality and uniqueness. Creative thinking also refers to what the eminent psychologist Bruner refers to as ‘Effective Surprise’. The product, should add value and evoke an unusual element of instant surprise which is highly evocative.
Yet another school of psychology advocates creative thinking which characterises appropriateness so that it can appeal to the human eye and mind. Besides it should be non-conformist, a bizarre idea or even indulging in a fantasy world.
Creativity should engage the human mind to buy an Apple product every year, or read about dark matter and even thinking of booking a ticket to the Red Planet… That is an elegant testimonial to the creative ability of the creator of an idea, however outlandish it may appear at the subterranean level.