Friday, June 01, 2007

Necessity is the mother of invention...

...and therein, perhaps, lies the creative gene?

I don't know if any of my ancestors were creative in the sense of the definition of "creative" if defined as "painter, musician, poet, wood carver, interior designer, writer, knitter, singer, calligrapher, or such" but it is my belief that they each had their own talents for surviving in the world during the times they lived. The research I've done on them has not really provided many clues as to any "special" talents, most of them were farmers - but being a farmer in pioneer days had a different meaning then than it does in current times. The pioneers, both men and women, had to provide virtually everything themselves or they had to bargain and barter for what was needed. Out of necessity comes remarkable ability and some degree of creativity to meet those needs.

As an example, Elizabeth Helms Jones (1804-1883) came to Whitley County, Indiana from Muskingum County, Ohio with her five children after the death of her husband in 1843. The children ranged from 8 to 16 years of age. Did she have any "special" talents? I don't know, but she had to find some way to care for her children. Her obituary says "She was of heroic disposition and bravely combated the trials and hardships incident to a pioneer life, and labored night and day, to add to the comfort of her children and rear them in a way that should cause them to grow up to be useful men and women." So yes, she and all "pioneer" women and men were talented and gifted in their own way.

In more recent generations, one of my Dad's sisters, Eva Leah Wiseman Shock (1908-1967) always carried around a bag of thread and needles for tatting. Her grandmother, Amanda Minerva Alexander Wiseman (1860-1950) made quilts for each of her grandchildren, I have the one she gave to my Dad. They were made from the fabric left over from the clothes she made herself.

There doesn't seem to be a common thread to the talents and creativeness in my family.

I've got several cousins on Mom's side of the family who are quite good singers and/or musicians. Not me, can't carry a tune in a bucket, can't read music. They must have gotten that from the "other" side of the family, not my line. At my cousins funeral yesterday, I kind of stepped back and took a look at the relatives that were there and thought about what they do for a living. One cousin was a college professor until her retirement a few years ago. She has written several books - textbooks used to teach college level English - as well as other books. One cousin has her own business doing paintings and selling crafts at shows. One of my cousin's children is an office manager, she was originally hired as a receptionist and was promoted when the company learned of her other talents in dealing with people. Another is the manager of a Ponderosa steakhouse. Can't tell me that doesn't take special talent and creativity in dealing with the employees as well as the customers! Another of his children is a dental assistant - and one of her children has received a scholarship to attend nursing school. Several other cousins are school teachers. My niece is a teacher's assistant for special ed kids. Another cousin owns a day care center. Takes a special kind of person to do all those things.

Are these talents inherited? Is there creativity in doing a day-to-day job. I don't know. Perhaps the creative gene lies dormant in all of us, but circumstances and opportunities brings out the talent and creativeness in different people at different times. Look at Grandma Moses - she didn't start painting until she was in her 70's. Lloyd C. Douglas didn't write his first novel until he was 50. (There may be hope for me yet!) Without a doubt, some people are endowed with more ability and creativity than others but where that spark comes from is one of the great mysteries of creation.

As I've been writing this, I've half-way been watching/listening to a biography of Leonardo da Vinci on the History Channel. Talk about talent and creativity, where did his genius come from?

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