I'm not really sure how to write about any of these things in a cohesive way, but I feel compelled to start throwing out words. So I shall, even if the thoughts are scattered.
One of my coworkers recently had a baby, and a few days ago he and his wife posted photos on Facebook illustrating how useful the baby was. One photo showed the baby laying on mom's lap, and on top the baby was a plate holding a sandwich. The caption was "Place mat." Other photos showed the baby serving as vase (with a flower tucked between his arm and his torso), a door stop, a paperweight, and a hat rack. I laughed so hard at this that I nearly cried, both because of the humor and the brilliant creativity of it.
Last week I had dinner at Alinea, which is unquestionably one of the very best restaurants in the whole world. The atmosphere is refined and elegant, the service is top-notch, and the food is all exquisitely prepared. There are lots of restaurants in the world that meet those criteria, though. What makes Alinea special is the artistry and creativity with which the food is prepared and presented. One of our dishes was served floating atop a cylinder filled with water and orchids. Another was served over river rocks. We were served helium balloons made out of taffy, and for the final course the owner of the restaurant drew a beautiful, edible piece of modern art directly onto our table.
People like this inspire me to be creative, and creativity is important to me. I love letting ideas ferment until I'm inspired to do something unique, interesting, or unexpected, and once that inspiration strikes I'm often driven to complete the idea. I've been working on a photo series for a while, but something about it felt... not quite right. I knew that the basic idea was good, but something was holding me back from making progress. A few weeks ago I understood what was blocking me, and what I should do with the images in order to go where I wanted to go. This requires me to hand-paint custom frames for each and every one of the photos, and I have no particular talent for painting or drawing, but I've spent hours with a sketch pad working out designs and figuring out exactly how everything should play together.
I love the creative act of giving people gifts... thinking about exactly what the right thing would be for a specific person, and sometimes creating the gifts from scratch. I don't always manage to find the perfect gift, and occasionally I will fall back on something like a gift certificate, but I always feel like I've failed when I do that... it's like I was too lazy to make the effort to find an excellent gift.
Some of my coworkers have an "idea board" in the office. When one of us gets a brilliant, goofy, or silly idea then we talk about it for a while and it eventually winds up being added to the list on the idea board. Last week someone decided that jugstep should be a thing-- dubstep music played on a jug. "Oh, but it would have to be a slide jug so that we could get those sounds." We spent a few minutes talking about the problems of doing this, especially the way that tone and volume interplay, and decided that it would have to be an electric slide jug. "Electric jugstep" wound up on the idea board, and we all went back to work. Half an hour later, one of the guys bounded over and announced, "I've figured out how to build an electric slide jug!" He then explained his design and how it worked, while gesturing with great animation and enthusiasm. (At this point, I feel compelled to add a brief disclaimer: I have no particular love of dubstep, and I wouldn't be heartbroken if I never heard it again.)
In a nutshell: creativity is important in my life. I love creating things, and I love being around creative people. Playing with ideas makes me happy.
(There will be more of these musings in the future.)