by Father Mark Goldasich
A teacher in elementary school wrote the figure 8 on the whiteboard and asked the class, “What is half of 8?”
Excitedly, a little boy raised his hand and shouted out confidently, “Half of eight is zero!”
“How did you come up with that?” asked the teacher.
The boy went to the whiteboard and drew a horizontal line through the 8 so that it now looked like two zeroes stacked on one another.
“That’s not right, silly,” chimed in a little girl. “The right answer is three!”
Seeing the puzzled look on the teacher’s face, she went to the board, erased the horizontal line the little boy drew and made a vertical line down the 8, so it now looked like two 3’s facing each other.
The teacher just shook her head and said, “And here I thought the only answer was 4!”
You’ve got to love the creativity of children. They seem to have a real gift for seeing things from a different perspective. Sadly, it’s something that we often lose as we get older.
For example, little kids are confident in their ability to draw, dance, play sports or sing. They do so with abandon. The older they get, though, they begin to compare themselves with others and come to the realization that they’re not “as good” at those activities as others. Gradually, their spark of creativity dims, then dies.
Is it possible, though, that we can be open to a spirit of creativity as we get older? The answer could be “yes” as shown in the following story:
A man had a terrible fear of someone hiding under his bed at night. He sought out a psychiatrist for a cure.
“Put yourself in my hands,” said the psychiatrist. “Come talk to me three times a week for a year and we should be able to get rid of that fear.”
“How much do you charge?” asked the man.
“Eighty dollars per visit,” said the doctor.
“I’ll sleep on it,” said the man.
Six months later, the psychiatrist met the potential patient on the street. “Why didn’t you come to see me about the fear you had?” he asked.
“Well, $80 an hour, three times a week for a year is $12,480,” replied the man. “My bartender cured me for $10! I was so happy I saved all that money I went out and bought a car.”
“Is that so?” scoffed the doctor. “And how, may I ask, did a bartender cure you?”
“Simple,” said the man. “He told me to cut the legs off the bed. Ain’t nobody under there now!”
Can you use an infusion of creativity? I like to think it’s the Holy Spirit at work in us whenever we experience freshness and newness in life. It’s the Spirit that invites us out of the “boxes” where we so often live.
To rediscover some creativity, try some of the following activities:
• Doodle, draw or color. (Maybe even go outside the lines.)
• Listen to a podcast or explore an audiobook.
• Head outside to savor the beauty of autumn.
• Audition for a role in a community theater or take a dance class.
• Go on a retreat.
Still stumped for ideas? Head then to something tried and true, in honor of a saint whose feast we just celebrated. See how many creative ways you can find to live the Prayer of St. Francis: Sow love where there’s hatred, bring light to darkness, replace sadness with joy, etc.
These will help you — and the world — experience a breath of fresh air!