Part way through the summer, those of us with kids begin to hear the two most dreaded words in the English lexicon: “I’m bored.” But the truth is, at this point in the summer, I get a little bored too. I’ve grown tired of my pastel summer wardrobe and afternoons at the pool, and find myself craving pumpkins and sweaters and crisp morning air. This boredom is exactly why retailers invented Pre-Fall.
But this summer I am not going to shop my way out of this ennui (well, maybe just those Jimmy Choo cage boots...) The next time I catch myself killing time — metaphorically staring at the back of an airplane seat a la Puddy in Seinfeld — I’m going to get creative.
Saul Steinberg, the man behind the amazing cover art at The New Yorker, understood that the “life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.” After all, if life were a 24/7 circus, there’d be little incentive to pick up a pen or a paintbrush.
For some people, avoiding boredom means getting their hands covered in clay and slip, for others, it’s transforming paper into crowns. Whether one loves to sew a skirt or write a poem or bake bread, there is something quite magical in creating something that wouldn’t exist were it not for our touch.
Carl Jung believed that creativity is an innate quality in humans. Even if our product is not quite up to Martha Stewart standards, it still does our souls good to create. Even if are not on a first name basis with the staff at Michael’s, we can still be engaged in the creative process. Carl Jung believed that even the least artistic individual was a creative being: “What can a man “create” if he doesn’t happen to be a poet? . . . If you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself.” Jung believed that working on our notion of self and redefining how we see the world was as much an act of creativity as basket-weaving or interpretive dance. Our ability to reshape how we view the world is amazing: like What Not to Wear for the soul.
For those of us who still don’t think of ourselves as particularly creative, Visa founder Dee Hawl offers some advice: “The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.” We find that some prayer or meditation is an excellent way to clear out some room.
Perhaps that was precisely what Puddy was doing on that plane. Perhaps he was not staring at the back of an airplane seat but clearing out the corners of his mind. While Elaine was busy insulting Vegetable Lasagna and stealing people’s apple juice, perhaps he was simply fine-tuning his spirit.
We should all use our time so well.