Guilty of not writing for a while, but I’ve returned to a project that’s started up again. Should have something of a preview again soon. For now, here’s a little something I wrote about myself, the nature and origin of creativity.
I am anomaly. I never fit the norm of most of my peers growing up, nor in my adult life. I suppose at least half of that is due to my genetics. Both sides of my family have had numerous creative people, and creative people are usually odd in some way as a general rule. There are idiosyncrasies here and there, almost like a small selection of obsessive compulsive traits. For myself it might be that I can identify most of the animals in my local region from memory, but I have trouble looking people in the eye when talking to them. I have the ability to completely catalog groups of animals and names in my mind, but when it comes to some social interaction I falter.
I have never been an outwardly social person, and I enjoy my solitude, but there are moments when I feel less than human. I’d like to be able to have closer relationships with people, but the truth is I don’t think I’m very good at it. Perhaps I’m too quiet, or not cheerful enough. I’m always thinking, absorbing information, and drawing it out to create my work.
I can understand how someone so silent and still might frighten others away. I reflect sometimes on how our minds work, and how thousands of thoughts are never given voice. We are constantly talking to ourselves on the inside, and no one has any idea what anyone’s really thinking. All the decisions we make, all the thoughts we do voice have been run through the check valve first. No one knows the first draft of a thought you had, or how you carefully chose to articulate it. I guess in a strange way, looking in from the outside gives a different perspective to human interaction. It’s a thing that begs the question, does anyone really know who another person is?
I often look at myself in the same light as a cheetah (not that I’m that fast, or cat-like). They are specialized hunters built for speed and endurance. Their own evolutionary process selected for those traits. However, their otherwise beautiful physique has also given them a great disadvantage. They’re fragile, and should lions or hyenas come to steal their kill they have little choice but to run. Some very creative people are so skilled and involved in their work that they seem to perceive nothing else. This is the catch 22 of the cheetah, being built for a singular purpose at the cost of functionality elsewhere. It is nearly like savantism in some people. This doesn’t apply to every artist, but some have dealt with this issue.
I find myself wondering if some of the same applies to humans with creative traits. My best guess is that whatever genes the ancestral cave painters, carvers, etc. passed down also went through its own specialization process. Though not so overt as to be expressed in the whole of the human species. This way, creative individuals could do their thing, be odd, and maybe contribute something unique to the species without damaging the population by passing on qualities that might increase mortality rates. Think about it, an early human working at some odd primitive craft, so concentrated he doesn’t hear a lion sneaking up on him. There are people who lose track of time, and forget to eat during painting, drawing, sculpting, etc. That couldn’t have survived well back then. Either some of these individuals were smart enough to do so within safety of their family groups, or they were killed off. Little by little, we built better shelters in which to live, and developed better tools for hunting and fending off predators. In the modern age, we no longer face threats from large predators hunting us, and most of us live in relative safety. We got away with it in the next several thousand years of civilization, and that is when these traits likely started flourishing even more.
When you look at things like spider webs and termite mounds, you understand why they were built. At their root is a single purpose, to survive. The spider traps its food in the web it weaves anew every night, and the termites house their growing colony. For advanced primates, creating things like music, visual art, sculpture, and architecture has no relevance to survival. It could almost be likened to peacock feathers. And that is the thing primates do, we display. We are in essence displaying to each other, whether to imply meaning, a sense of power, or beauty. It does leave me wondering how it all became so damned elaborate. I could say that it’s possibly because humans get easily bored, and that some can’t resist the challenge to go further. It would be easy to assume that humankind’s penchant for endless creative forces is somehow alien, but I don’t think it is. It’s all very likely that some weird genes got to have a bit of fun in the pool once civilization began.
So where do I fit in all this nonsense? I don’t know really. I only know what my odd compulsions drive me to do, and that I really want to achieve those things. I don’t know that I’ll leave work unique to my species when I die, or if it will impact just the small amount of people I know in my lifetime. For all I know an asteroid could smash into the Earth and render everything to dust before I get to leave a mark. But still, something is driving me to try anyway.