Our creativity can flourish as we age

Someone said to me the other day that she wasn’t creative and wished she was.
I thought about that for a minute and then a few days later I heard Lynda Barry, an American cartoonist and educator, speak on CBC Radio about our creativity. We all have creativity within us, waiting and able, should we decide to tap into it.
I love watching my grandchildren create their masterpieces.
They pick up crayons and markers and paintbrushes with fearless abandon. They are young enough not to have their creativity sullied by judgment, by their own self-consciousness or by criticism.
They don’t worry about colouring inside the lines. I have no recall of my own children sitting with colouring books.
They started with blank pages, not limited in their vision of what they considered creative fun.
I, on the other hand, loved colouring books. I made considerable effort to stay between the lines and to colour things as they would appear in the real world.
I have no memories of drawing on blank paper, of colouring the moon green or the trees orange.
There were rules to be followed then and I felt the obligation to adhere to them. Sadly.
Creativity in education allows children to develop communication skills, and to put their thoughts and ideas into action, as well as how to problem solve.
I have read and I can’t remember to whom I should extend credit, but those with highly creative minds will find the solutions to the world problems we face today, i.e. those who colour outside the lines.
We see evidence of such creativity coming into play in how we are attempting to clean the oceans of waste and how we use green space to the best advantage in densely populated areas.
Creative minds are looking at ideas to solve the housing crisis in cities like Vancouver and Toronto.
Yet when tax dollars are allocated to the many areas that require funding, creative programs in our education system are the first to go.
That is government without vision.
Dance and music and art classes may seem an easy budget-trimming tactic, but art feeds the developing minds of children, the next generation of problem solvers.
One creative idea I heard the other day was the concept of “agrihoods,” which basically integrates residential areas around a farm that uses sustainable methods of growing food.
These homes aren’t bordering a golf course or pool as in the past, but instead, residents play a role in how their food is grown and harvested. Golf courses cost millions to build and cost millions to maintain, but fewer people are interested in golf.
As a result, golf courses in the United States are being sold for other uses.
In the past, individuals who bought a home around a golf course development had no interest in playing golf, but did have an interest in being close to a green space of some kind.
Some of these golf courses are being redirected into high cost housing in order to recover the investment in the golf course, but some are being developed into agrihoods.
Psychology Today tells us the aging brain has access to a “store of knowledge gained over a lifetime of learning and experience” providing “fertile ground for creative activity” and allowing us, as we age, to have valuable creative contributions.
Like children, seniors have less interest to “please and impress others,” which allows their creativity to flourish.
I like the sound of that.
wendistewart@live.ca

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