Creativity

Over the years, I’ve been called many things, some appropriate for a blog that I intend to be friendly for all ages and some that are less so. We’ll be focusing on the positive ones in this post. Creative is one that has come up over the years, though I think context often pushes that description more towards resourceful, smart or what I sometimes feel is most appropriate, lucky.

My current occupation is as an engineer in a manufacturing setting. Though terms like ingenuity, resourceful and analytical are common, creative is something I just don’t hear often. It isn’t because we don’t have creative people. Some of the most creative people I know are engineers. In a previous role, not in a manufacturing setting, the phrase “get creative” was common and being creative was essential. Perhaps this has something to do with manufacturing being a process where the same component is made repeatedly, sometimes hundreds or thousands of times a day? My previous role was in testing and developing products and designs that had never been produced on large scale.

Repetitive processes, like manufacturing, even though they require creativity to solve problems that will inevitably occur, seem inherently stable and often resistant to change. There’s just something about doing something that has been done before which gives me a kind of laissez faire feeling. Over the last two years that I’ve been in this setting, I have found many problems that are new and unique and I often derive great exhilaration from setting about solving them.

Often however, I feel that once the course is set for solving these issues, I have to hand off the execution to someone else. Sometimes because of my work load, others because of my position and either not having the skill to complete the task or that task belonging to someone else. I get it, everyone has their part to play, but it is sometimes frustrating to hand over something you were told was a good idea. I’m a hands on person and much of my hands on work these days is driving a mouse to create various software tools and data models or managing projects and creating processes. It’s far from the tinkering and woodworking I did growing up in the country.

I talk to my wife about it with some frequency. All of the things I’ll build (some she’s requested, some I’m sure will get an eye roll) once I have my own place to work again. Apartment living does have some drawbacks.

Growing up I wanted to take everything apart, then put it back together and hope it worked or that no one would notice when it didn’t. I have a tendency to look at things, sometimes obscure things and wonder what I could do with them. What could I make that thing do or be useful for that its creator did not intend? This is a trait that can make for a good packrat if you aren’t careful. As I’ve been going through things trying to separate myself from things and focusing more on living, I’ve caught myself on several occasions wondering ‘what on Earth was I going to do with this?’ Sometimes it comes back to me, often it’s been lost to time.

My creativity over the last few years has largely been directed to planning new adventures and making photographs. Though, there have been those fun moments of figuring out creative ways to keep my daughter out of certain things. I do miss the days of shooting with film. It just seemed simpler. Although, I wasn’t doing much developing of my own film once I finished my photography class. And at the age I was, I wasn’t paying for much of it either. Digital also gives us many more options and about every six months an obsolete camera sitting in our bag.

Creative environments can be so much fun! There are always new ideas and new things happening. This goes back to something I read several years ago about surrounding yourself with people whose character, personality, morals, etc. are more like what you want to be like yourself.

So how am I trying to do this? In part, writing this blog. I hope to eventually connect with people of similar interests or views on various things. It’s also something that came up during my recent period of introspection. It has made me think about where I am, where I want to go and how best to get there. Recently, I’ve gone through some training, where I had to take a personality assessment of sorts. It was all in the interest of self awareness and was actually quite interesting. Out of curiosity, I took a different type of assessment to learn more about other aspects of my personality. It was pretty surprising to read each of the reports. Maybe some of it is rationalization, but everything I read sounded like how I perceive myself and it elaborated on some areas in ways I don’t think I’d have thought of on my own.

I have really been enjoying my creative time lately. I don’t have as much as I would like, but it’s been refreshing to get my thoughts written down when I can. This time of year makes it especially challenging to do the things I enjoy. I left for work this morning and it was dark, barely any daylight when I arrived and then it’s the same thing in reverse on my way home. Maybe it’s the lack of daylight, but it has been especially difficult going back to work after the new year.

There’s just not much time for photography or hiking. But, I am liking my new creative outlet. I hope you are too. The continuation of my routine has made it difficult at times through the day when what I really want to be doing is writing and creating. I did manage to do something creative at work today. Build an overly elaborate spreadsheet to make something easier for our technicians. Hopefully it will be worth the time I put into it.

While I feel that I’m ready for change, these things take time. So I try to be patient and remember, life is a marathon, not a sprint.

There are all sorts of tools out there to help you learn about yourself and if ever you’re feeling out of place, they might just do the trick. Figure out what motivates you and what makes you happy. Then, go get it!

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