This is how you live to be 103 years old.
Creativity in, creativity out.
Life needs circulation. Even a car’s engine needs to turn, sometimes to turn fast and clean out the gunk that builds up over time. But there’s a process, a flow, a circle, a cycle.
This is part of the Every Single Day series. Each post builds on a topic for the upcoming book, “Every Single Day.” (Witty title, right?!) The book is more than witty. It’s life altering … and life extending!
We have so much input every day: media, conversations, thoughts, even just taking a walk. It’s practically a hurricane of overwhelming sensory data. What’s a brain to do with it all?
We need an outlet.
All of this information is coming in. Think of a garden hose in a bucket–but it never turns off. It just keeps filling, keeps coming in. Pretty quickly, it’s going to overflow. Is that then “wasted” water? What if we could use it, harness it, filter it and then send it back out as something even more useful?
This is how creativity works.
We need input to have output. We talk about The Blank Page and we are going to fill it with words, paint or a business plan, but we have to have something to work with, something that fills our brains that will fill that page (or canvas or sound waves or ?). Is the input just anything that we take in? Is a walk in the park the same for Person A as it is for Person B?
If Person A walks in the park and doesn’t take anything in, maybe they need less to offload. Maybe there is less circulation of thoughts, ideas and creativity. If Person B walks through the park and takes it in, filters what they want, repels what they don’t want, sees things maybe others wouldn’t see and then has an outlet then it builds a circle, a cycle of thoughts and ideas that are filtered through Person B’s mind to become something else, something new, something different.
Who will you be when you’re 103?
My dear neighbor Tony is turning 103 in a few days. How many people over, say, 80 do you know who live like this:
- He lives on his own. No help, no nurse, nobody else.
- He is excellent health. In recent years, he’s been using a walker, but he gets around fine–especially if it’s to show you his art.
- He works. Sorry, did you catch that? He works. I know, ahem, 13-year olds who are too lazy to work. That’s 90 years younger. But he doesn’t call it work, it’s what he loves to do. This is creativity, this is output.
- He has a sense of humor. I tend to classify older people into the glass half full and glass half empty. His cup runneth over.
- He reads the newspaper, watches movies and listens to music. This is input.
- He eats white bread, doesn’t drink and often has frozen TV dinners. (If you don’t know what a TV dinner is, it’s better that way.)
- He gets at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
There are probably other reasons he’s reached such a milestone in years. I’m focusing on #3 and #5.
Take a human body. Or a car engine. Take your pick. Both need to move, to turn, they survive (and thrive) on input and output. Stuff goes in and stuff goes out. The more it moves or turns or cycles, the better. It keeps it clean, healthy and alive.
Creativity needs both input and output.
I keep forgetting that you don’t know Tony. He’s an artist. He’s been an artist most of his life–which almost certainly is longer than you’ve lived your entire life. He paints and he sculpts. He still works. He still draws and sketches and creates new characters. His characters on his canvas come to life. They have names and personalities. Ask him, he’ll tell you all about them.
But he also has input. Well, most of us have input. We are bombarded by television, screens, audio, video, human interaction and even nature. But most of us don’t have enough ouput. In my not-even-close-to-a-medical opinion, we need an outlet for all of that inlet or things get clogged up. Just like your car or your body.
I’m not too worried about people’s inputs with the exception of how or what or what we let in. It’s the outpu that I think we’re lacking. I’s the output that releases the pressure on the valve which then again makes room for more to come in. Then the process can keep going. But there’s the kicker, here’s the secret: with each cycle, it gets better, we get smarted, we become more accomplished and experienced and knowledgeable. This is experience, this is training, this is who we become.
I know you get enough input. How are you doing on the output?