One of the things I enjoy doing with my kids on those lazy, sunny days of summer is looking for animals and other shapes in the puffy, white clouds that drift on by. Sometimes we’d find an elephant throwing water up into the air from its trunk, other times we find a dragon breathing out fire from his mouth. One time we even saw a cat flying a spaceship next to a laughing frog.
Of course, looking for shapes in the clouds is something many of us did when we were kids. As we got older, though, we “outgrew” this habit in favour of more practical ones. Admittedly, I only resumed this playful activity thanks to the encouragement of my kids. But the ease with which I was able to once again see such fanciful imagery in the sky was like riding a bike again; it just came back to me without much effort or thought. In some ways, I suppose this should hardly be surprising as none of us really ever lost that sense of wonder and imagination that feeds our creativity. For most of us, we simply put it aside as it was viewed as something that was not needed or valued when we became a part of the adult populace.
And yet, many of us now find ourselves admiring those who still hung onto that creative side, to that ability to see things and the world from a completely different light or vantage point. And with good reason as often it’s the creatives among us who fuel innovation, who come up with new solutions to old problems, or perhaps even just help us find that silver lining among the dark clouds to give us hope that things aren’t as bad as we might think.
Looking at my kids and how they can spin these tales of elephants, dragons and cats in flying saucers from abstract shapes in the air above us reminded me that all of us have that ability to create new worlds and new ideas. All we need to do is remember how when we were little, we used to love making drawings of purple dragons and orange skies, of grabbing a blanket off our beds and flying around our house in search of evil-doers to defeat. That ability is still there within all of us; the problem is we simply forgot that it was there all along.
Granted, some of us are innately more creative, more ‘left brain’-centric than the rest of us, a big reason why most of us can’t paint like Renoir or compose music like Mozart. But being creative is an ability that all of us are capable of; the only difficulty we face is how out of shape we’ve let our imagination get, if not how determined or driven we are to reconnect with that part of ourselves from our past.
To get it back doesn’t mean one has to start drawing again with crayons or running around the neighbourhood in your pyjamas as some made-up superhero. It can start with just the simple act of looking up into the sky and searching for the dragon among the clouds.