The True Creative

About the time we all started to use adjectives as substantives, the soi-disant ‘creative’ was born. At that time he — for it usually was he — was easily identified by his appearance: black clothing, spikey hairstyle and heavy spectacles. He didn’t actually have to do anything, just look the part, in a rather mannered, self-conscious way. A short survey conducted on Twitter yesterday indicated that the concept has grown enormously. Now it seems we are all creatives; but still I wonder about our use of the word.

I have been privileged to know some amazing people, many of whom the world would label ‘creative’ and rightly so; but the most creative person I’ve ever known was none of these. When I first met her, she was already old. She wasn’t very well educated and had done nothing that would attract the attention of historians or biographers, but she had the gift of spreading love wherever she went. I cannot explain how she did that, but she did. People, animals, plants, all were surrounded with the same uncomplicated affection. She was one of the few people I’ve known who was genuinely unselfconscious. When she was a very old lady indeed, I asked her how she managed to show everyone the same kindness: ‘Is it kindness? Surely not. People are so interesting! Their problems are always greater than mine.’

That, I think, was my grandmother’s secret: she looked at the other person and forgot herself completely. In so doing, I think she shared in God’s own creativity — the only creativity worth having.