Over the last couple of weeks, I've been helping put together the Gifts That Give Back webpage for this site. As I was thinking about colours, shapes and styles, I also started to wonder why creativity is so essential to life and well-being?
Why should someone give the gift of music or acrobatics classes when necessities like food, shelter and education seem more fundamental?
Creativity can help an individual think more broadly. How do we see the world? Are there other ways to picture what's happening around us? Can we find a way to express that?
Creating something can also help us express what's happening to us internally, so that what's going round and round in our heads can be spewed out, on a piece of paper, by pounding a drum to make a pattern of beats, in photos. It's a way of expressing thoughts and feelings without needing to find the words, maybe the words don't even exist to express having seen loved ones die, being an orphan, or living on the streets.
The flow we experience when we're immersed in a piece of creative work can takes us out of ourselves, away from our emotional stress and gives us considerable feelings of happiness. I've been swept up in writing, painting or crafting and been so happily absorbed I've let coffees go cold and missed lunch!
Perseverance and problem-solving are also encouraged by taking part in a creative project, we have to ask questions like 'how do I make the lines on the page look like what I'm being asked to draw?' 'How can I move my limbs into that shape?' 'What's my part in this piece of group music and how does it fit in with what everyone else is playing?' And there's the difficult part of seeing something through to the end, not giving up because it's difficult or time consuming to learn new skills.
Working collaboratively helps us learn team-building skills, to be patient, and part of the process is to have a laugh and enjoy being part of a group creative project.
Success and achievement when what's been started is complete, sounds or looks appealing, and is meaningful to us are also profound feelings everyone benefits from, boosting self-esteem.
I've enjoyed the creative process of helping with the page and getting it to the stage where it's ready for launch. And also learnt that getting two visual art-loving perfectionist types together means a lot of changes, discussions about colour (I won't mention the green) and design. Plus the fun of collaboration and laughing about nothing, including sausages, dog's noses and bat-winged jumpers.
And I'm convinced that all the gifts we offer have an important contribution to make.