Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Whether you like Einstein or not, one has to admit that he changed the world and that he created a whole new set of knowledge because he was extremely imaginative. He thought far out of the box to fulfill his aspirations; as a result his imagination brought us a lot of knowledge.
In Saudi Arabia, we usually admire creativity and its embedded courage but we tend to feel unsafe because creativity involves the risky unleashing of imagination; we would rather hold the stick from the middle. Consequently, we create a paradox within our lives because we seek a standardized form of creativity, which is a paradoxical request. This can be a self-defeating goal because, by default, creativity and imagination demand autonomy.
I understand the need for channeling and I agree that almost everything and everyone needs some channeling, but imposition is not the same as channeling. Creativity is hard work but it is also fun and awe-inspiring.
When creative people look at something or find something new, they are filled with the joy of discovery, a childlike joy. Their minds and hearts jump out of their places and new possibilities are thought of; what can be channeled here is not the aspirations but how they can eventually be used.
There is always a risk that comes with enabling creativity and we must be willing to take it if we want creativity to thrive. Naturally, one cannot be sure of the outcome until it is there. However, risk taking is often enabling because it frees creativity from typical human bondage. Creativity may involve taking the untrodden path with its lack of certainty, and its surprises, risks and joys, as Robert Frost expressed beautifully in his poem “The Road Not Taken”.
We can cultivate creativity but cannot calculate its outcome. I am sure that neither Van Gogh nor his family realized the impact of his visions on the generations to come. However, his brother believed in him, which freed his creativity from the humdrum of daily living and enabled him to focus on painting which gave humanity an incredible artistic heritage. Similarly, Edison’s mother believed in her son’s creativity so he became the inventor we know and Cambridge University believed in Stephen Hawking so he did his research and wrote his groundbreaking books.
We wonder sometimes if creativity is rare. I do not think so because young children are usually creative until society molds them into acceptable models and they become content with the familiar. We learn to think within the box because it is the only thing we know or because it is easier and safer.
However, creating dependable beings who are incapable of taking an initiative is a way of creating future problems because we end up with large numbers of people who wait for someone else to sort out their lives for them and who can neither solve problems effectively nor make sound decisions.
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