I was having dinner with a friend in San Francisco on our return from New Zealand, and she told me a wonderful story. Her son teaches kindergarten, and on Martin Luther King day he held a class discussion about the meaning and importance of Dr King’s life. He asked them to draw a picture of what Dr. King meant to them. The room filled with the sound of pencils and crayons scratching paper. One child, with a worried look upon his face, raised his hand. “I don’t know what to draw,” he told the teacher. Another student overheard him, and said, “just take out a box of crayons and keep an open mind.” We laughed at the simple wisdom of this statement. Perhaps we should give this advice to the members of Congress.
So often we think ourselves into a paper bag, worrying about something or other. We go round and round trying to find a solution. The expression of art, in any form, can free our looping mind.
Look at the picture below, for example. I took this on a beach in New Zealand last week. Nature didn’t have anything in mind when she poured hot lava down the slopes and left it to harden many millennia ago. There was no mind, as we know it, just the pouring of energy. Yet look what was left, in negative space, as I peered through.
We have a choice about how we use our energy. Sometimes we let it turn us into a tailspin of worry, other times we free ourselves into open mind.
Imagine what our lives could be like if we poured our energy into creativity? What if we let our bodies do the thinking instead of our minds?
Next time you are anxious about something, take out a box of crayons, unwind a ball of yarn or press some clay between your hands. Add some music if you like, and see what happens.
I usually take photographs and write poetry to stay more present. One of these days I’ll open a box of crayons too.
How does art impact your creative problem solving?
What kinds of art help you best?