We are rarely so alive and so alert as when we are creating. Yesterday I began composing some simple music to a tongue-twister for my 4th grade class and once that was set in motion,
the mind kept the wheels rolling without me having to push the cart. I was swept up in the fervor of creation, most of which was bubbling beneath the surface. Ideas about what to adjust, what to edit, what to add, came forth of their own accord and continued in my sleep. I dreamt about using the same melody for a welcome song and when I awoke, it was already fully formed.
Think about it. The miracle of creation is so extraordinary that we assign it to some supernatural force we call God. But since the imagination is one of our human faculties, it seems that God (or the gods) wanted us to co-participate in the ongoing process of creation. And thus was born the glorious history of art, organizing images, movements, sounds, words, experiences to create something that never was before and never will be again, except as a reproduced record of that miraculous creation.
To live life using the full possibility and pleasure of continuous creation is available to us all, but only realized by some. When asked about his favorite composition, Duke Ellington replied “The next one.” When a player in Charles Mingus’ band played an inspired solo that brought down the house, Mingus told him afterwards, “Don’t do that again!” Meaning don’t try to reproduce that moment to please an audience, don’t try to step in the same river twice. Just keep yourselves wholly open to the flow and the source of that inspiration.
Scientific invention also belongs to the realm of the imagination and creation, but quickly crystallizes to material objects that are mindlessly reproduced and standardized. The inventors, if they were lucky enough to get a patent, can live off the money and never have to imagine again. The advertising person can stumble upon one poetic phrase and retire on it’s royalties. The poet gets paid 10 cents and keeps up the lifetime glory of trying to capture the sublime in a net of words. Lucky poet!
My class plan around “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?” will neither shake the world nor earn me big money. But it was a good way to spend my time and I woke up just a bit more alert, alive and excited having dipped into the waters of creation. And next week I get to bring it wholly alive with the 4th grade and watch it change and grow again. Lucky me!