[Editor’s note: The following is comprised of two posts that follow the same theme]
In a world where desires are fulfilled by themselves, you don’t need to be creative.
In a world where our cravings for variety and novelty are instantaneously satisfied by wishing things into existence, you don’t need to be creative.
In a world where you can throw a party, make art, laugh with friends or simply get through a day without having to negotiate a single element that’s unpredictable, unwanted or uncooperative, you don’t need to be creative.
We don’t live in any of those worlds.
We live in a world where time and space often feel like stubborn gatekeepers separating us from the things we want and need. We live in a world where our goals and desires are constantly challenged by the realities of inertia and inconvenience. We live in a world where success and satisfaction depends on imagination and innovation. We live in a world that requires creativity.
Creativity brings us pleasure, but it’s made necessary by the things that delay, decrease, or deny our pleasure.
When we feel displeased with the world, this is not a reason to give up on creativity. This is a reminder for why we need it.
People ask me “Why should I strive to live creatively when things are going bad?”
Because that’s really the main reason for being creative. Challenges are not an argument against being creative. Challenges are the reason why we need to get creative in the first place.
If things were naturally going your way, what use would there be for creativity? If your desires could be fulfilled without costs, inconveniences, or challenges, why would you ever need to be creative? No single work of art or act of good has ever arisen from a completely effortless state devoid of the need to deal with some form of resistance or difficulty.
Creativity isn’t just about playing theatre games or putting paint on your face. It’s about having goals, encountering obstacles, and bearing the burden of having to come up with counter-intuitive strategies for getting around those obstacles.
It doesn’t take any creativity to lay back and passively let good things happen on their own. We need creativity precisely for those moments when the way forward seems unclear or impossible.
Creativity isn’t for the good times. It’s for the challenges that get in our way when we’re busy trying to enjoy or pursue the good times.
Creativity may exist for the purpose of having fun, but it’s made necessary by the fact that having fun can’t be done without the ability to innovate and improvise around the unwelcome or unexpected.
T.K. Coleman is the education director for Praxis and an adjunct faculty member for the Foundation for Economic Education.