Encouraging creativity through everyday exploration is a credo I try to live by. Especially at the moment, as I’ve had to make some major changes in my life since the past couple of weeks. More about that later when I am ready to write about it. In the meantime, I am full of gratitude to my close friends, who support me, and reach out at the right time.
I met Fran a couple of years ago – just one more wonderful instance of the great connections we make through blogging. I love her blog and find that I can visit any time and simply get lost in the archives. Besides being a fantastic writer, Fran is a gardening expert. I get all emotional each time I see the fabulous birthday card she sent me last year! I’ve had the pleasure of being featured in one of her posts – How 18 top bloggers turn an ordinary day into an extraordinary one on her blog. I admire her writing style and was excited when she agreed to guest post here.
Please welcome Fran Sorin!
Take it away, Fran!
Encouraging Creativity Through Everyday Exploration
by Fran Sorin
“Get out now. Not just outside, but beyond the trap of the programmed electronic age so gently closing around so many people at the end our century. Go outside, move deliberately, then relax, slow down, look around. Do not jog. Do not run. Forget about blood pressure and arthritis, cardiovascular rejuvenation and weight reduction. Instead pay attention to everything that abuts the rural road, the city street, the suburban boulevard. Walk. Stroll. Saunter. Ride a bike, and coast along a lot. Explore” Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History And Awareness In Everyday Life, John Stilgoe
If you had asked me 5 years ago if I was an explorer, I wouldn’t have known how to answer.
Was I a Lewis and Clark, Christopher Columbus, or Jacques Cartier? Uh…no.
The best scenario that I could have come up with was that when I visit gardens, my curiosity propels to explore every nook and cranny.
But an everyday explorer – something that is a part of who you are?
I would have had to ‘fess up – no, I wasn’t. Even when I went into Center City Philadelphia or NYC, both familiar terrains, did I wander around with a sense of discovery? Most of the time – no.
It wasn’t until I moved to the non-stop, bustling center of Tel Aviv that I unintentionally started wandering. Without a car for the first time in my life, I began to bike and walk everywhere.
Initially it was just to get me where I needed to go. But it didn’t take long for me to notice things that had gone unnoticed before. Or to make a last minute turn down a street to see what lay beyond – with a sense of anticipation and mystery as my companions.
Today every morning when I take my dogs for a walk, I am reminded of how few people take in their surroundings. The majority are involved with some technology that removes them from any possibility of exploring their surroundings.
Between talking and texting on the phone, listening to music on an ipod, or chatting with a friend, there is no chance to connect and savor something quite extraordinary – it is our everyday landscape.
Once you disconnect, pay attention, and explore, magical things happen.
You begin to notice things you never did before – perhaps how the sunlight plays off of a wall, the wildflowers that have naturalized on the top of a low roof, or the design of a building that dates back to Turkish times.
The benefits of exploring are huge. It –
- Changes the way you experience the world – and think about it.
- Unloosens your stuck places.
- Opens the door for you to see things differently.
- Gives you the skill set to solve problems easily.
- Develops your ability to come up with new ideas.
- Helps you by encouraging creativity and invention.
- Transforms your ordinary surroundings into something quite extraordinary.
- Lets you experience an element of delight and magic that you never knew possible.
So here are…
Six Tips For Encouraging Creativity Through Exploration
1. Walk or bike.
Don’t use a car. Biking and walking allow you to move slowly, meander, and take in all of the sights, sounds, and smells that you wouldn’t be privy to when driving.
2. Have no destination or plans in mind. Let your legs or bike lead you in the direction they want to go. Take a route that you’ve never tried before.
3. Stay awake, walk slowly, stop and check out something that catches your eye.
4. Imagine. If you’re walking in a historic neighborhood surrounded by old homes, why not imagine who was walking down these streets and what was happening back then… Are the cobblestones streets real or have they been made to look old? How about the deep steps with grates on the side – were they for cleaning off a horses hoofs?
5. Discover the interplay of light, shadow, and colors. Once you begin to look for and appreciate this interplay , your way of ‘seeing’ the landscape will change– and from that point on it will never cease to amaze you.
Throughout history, ‘landscape artists’ chose where they worked based on the quality of the light they were able to capture. Taos, New Mexico, the South of France, and Ireland were and still are popular enclaves for artists.
Bring a camera and take photos – if you want. The purpose of this is not to improve your photography skills. Rather, snap a photo quickly because something compels you to do so.
For example, yesterday on a bike ride in the oldest area of the city, I came upon an old stucco structure with peeling and aged turquoise shutters. The way the light was falling on it intrigued me – so I took 3 photos from different angles within less than a minute.
Tip-If your camera has a color mode where you can change it to black and white, give it a try. The results may surprise you.
6. Work your explorer muscles. Like any discipline, it takes practice to get the hang of it. The more you do it, the more natural it will become and the more enduring pleasure and afterglow you’ll experience.
Thank you, Fran!
Fran’s book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, now considered a classic, was groundbreaking when published as no one had written about gardening in the context of encouraging creativity, spirituality, and transformation. Read more about her book.
In addition to being a recognized gardening expert and deep ecologist, Fran is also a broadcaster, journalist, Ordained Interfaith Minister, and Soul Tender. All of her work is based on her deep belief that our need to connect to the earth is an inherent trait – and that by doing so, we heal and experience more joy in our lives.
Please “Like” Fran Sorin on Facebook
Her website is at http://www.fransorin.com
And now, question time!
Which of the above six tips did you like the most?
Do you follow one or more of these?
Would you like to add to the list?