Ti Plants and T-Shirts

hinking more about creativity, I consider other, but intertwined words – imagination for example.

A reminder of why imagining is worth pursuing comes from Emerson: “There are no days in life so memorable as those which vibrated to some stroke of the imagination.”

My imagination doesn’t operate well in a vacuum or when surrounded by sour talk or negativity. I’m looking to encourage creativity – and maybe not separate it from regular life. What if, as part of honoring the everyday, we credit ourselves for little strokes: an idea given away to someone else, a thing repaired because you “figured it out,” or the untying of a knotty situation.

Every time we rethink when we forget the reusable grocery bags (without accepting new paper or plastic) or momentarily inhabit another’s mind to buy them a gift, and wrap it without buying paper, that imagining is a little hit of the same juice. If the meeting-daily-life challenges became warm-ups, practice drills, perhaps the ideas which bear on what one might want to achieve could more easily slip in.

When we neared the completion of this house, I badly wanted one of those iron pot racks – locally made, dramatic and functional. Our house designer offered the one she’d used to store tools in her basement. Since in the building we strove for reuse and recycle, I was delighted – and most dismayed to realize the rack would, when hung normally, be way too close to the burners. The designer flipped the rack and asked it be hung upside down. Perfect.

When the young writer thought she killed our tea kettle, she responded with a story which begins: “Once upon a time, there was a shiny metal beauty, on the kingdom counter outsteaming all teapots in speed of boil and elegance.” The clever language of the tale winds through her reaction and the replacement she bought “plastic charade, a placeholder, a poor substitute, lady in waiting until the true prince arrives.” Asked how she came to write such a fairy tale gem in apology and explanation, she admitted uncertainty – “Where did that come from?”

That’s an Emerson stroke for sure, an imaginative leap achieved because she was at the ready – able to express strong feelings because of practice with words. But her query is an indication also of the mystery of such vibrations.

I wish I could sum this up easily (for myself as well as for anyone reading). Put A in front of B and attach C – for creativity. It is about wooing, not demanding, making space and opportunity and being hopeful – trusting in the undermind to bring forth “Where did that come from?” ideas.

I should be able to provide here some illustration of how a burst of imagination sparked something specific in my art. In spite of only having a black and white photo, I offer a small stroke – when laundry and plant image vibrated together to make a quilt.

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