A Word On Creativity

I have never considered myself a creative person. That being the case during the past week I got a visit from the Rude Awakening Caucus. In my mind my principle strengths as they related to creativity were collaborative only. I could appreciate other's creativity. I feel interjecting thoughts and ideas was in my wheelhouse. I feel like I could recognize creative brilliance in things like when I was working on historic structures or vintage machines or looking at art or listening to music, etc... You know, a lot like that creepy guy Salieri in Amadeus (minus the creepiness,... I hope). This thought process kind of began a couple of weeks ago when I found myself  re-reading a lot of the things I've written over the past 10 years or so. In my chronological reading as I got to the most recent couple years I noticed that my writing became increasingly dull and formulaic, in a word - uninspired. It wasn't interesting, funny or even really anything more than some loose lists of facts and/or happenings. Naturally, I got a little panicky so I got in touch with a friend of mine who does a ton more writing than I have done or will ever do and had a long conversation with her trying to get do the bottom of what's gone on here. Was my writing voice just gone? Did I ever have one? Was there a block in my mind on how I communicate through writing where after years of writing change orders and reviewing construction contracts and spec books I had lost the ability to communicate funny and nuanced thoughts? Who really knows but the conclusion I came to was that I don't and haven't felt creative, really and truly creatively inspired. So how did that happen? Well as I started working backwards from that conclusion I came to realize a few things.

1) I haven't been giving myself space to be creative. Between two jobs, owning a business, church responsibilities, community commitments, home renovations, a rental house, and everything else I've just let myself become too bogged down in getting my lists of "to-do's" completed.

2) I haven't surrounded myself with many or any creative people on a regular basis. While I do have great people around me the creative people and family that I used to spend more time with - because we lived closer - aren't in my life the way they used to be.

3) My work demands less creativity in my immediate responsibilities. All through high school and college my jobs were mainly repair jobs. They demanded fixes quickly and quite often with limited materials and tools. What did that require? You guessed it, creative thinking. These days I'm usually making sure documents are signed and that materials and workmanship meet the standard and specification of someone else's creative efforts.

So apparently a "non-creative" person not only had some creativity in his life at one point, but has subsequently found out that he was now truly lacking in creativity. (I'll pause for a collective gasp from all those who don't consider themselves creative) How much could some creativity help me at this point in my life? (besides making my horribly boring blog posts less vapid and un-interesting) To be quite honest I've had to admit some things to myself in the past weeks and have made the decision to confront and deal with them and that is really going to require some outside of the box thinking on my part to deal with and reconcile. Furthermore, to be creative takes some courage and some willingness to be vulnerable and certainly necessitates you being seen and present in your life. Not exercising your creativity means you're also not exercising your ability to be courageous or your ability to be open with those around you. Clearly someone who owns his own business needs to be creative or that business will never make it (at least that's what all those insufferable entrepreneurs at BYU told me). Looking back over the last couple years I can see how the lack of creative thinking has diminished the quality of my work and observed how that has shown up in projects I've worked on. So what's to be done? Obviously 1) Give myself time to be creative 2) Find some creative people to connect with or re-connect with as the case may be 3) Be courageous and bring creativity to bear on my work, personal life and hobbies.

Getting this engine disassembled was last night's project. Somewhat mindless work that certainly could have used some creative thinking as I ended the night having giving up due to my lack of an oil pump puller. But to paraphrase James May, all the best ideas in the world have been born in garages so I think there's hope.


Wrap it up!

Fall decided it was over on Monday and so I got to spend Tuesday shoveling about 12" of snow this week. It's still not real warm (read still well below freezing at mid-day), but at least the sun is shinning and I'm not shoveling.

The last few months have been occupied with either getting ready for winter or trying to get things done before winter.

At the TV District that has included getting some small repair and maintenance items done out on mountain tops before it snowed -
(this is our transmission site on Cave Mountain)

- and of course getting equipment serviced and ready for use. Last weekend I spend a few hours, 15 quarts of oil, and three filters servicing the snow cat. 
I'm hoping El Nino comes through and I actually get to use it sometime this year. So far the forecast is looking good.

Earlier this fall I took a trip back to Virginia to see some family get put in a bishopric. It was a quick trip but a fun one. (sorry, no pictures) They live right outside Shenandoah National Park. It was some great country I hadn't seen before. On the way back to Baltimore to catch our flight I insisted we drive though Washington DC so I could get a quick look-see. I was pretty disappointed. Nothing really great to see from the street in DC. I'll have to go back when I have more time.

At the railroad I've been taking contractors around to look at our big spring time project which is a track maintenance and tunnel repair job. It's interesting between my different jobs being on different sides of the construction process multiple times a day. As we are putting this track project out to bid at a couple of junctures I've thought,"if I were trying to bid on this I'd be really annoyed by what I've done in these bid documents here." However I usually follow that thought up with,"well I'm glad that it's not my problem!" Minus the fact that I then have to answer the contractors' complaints and questions. Oh well.
(Look Ma! No hands!)
I'm afraid I appear much less than competent when trying to put the Hy-rail truck on the track. I'm getting better though.

I'm really looking forward to hosting Thanksgiving this year (a tune that will most definitely change at some point). All my siblings are coming and I'm excited to see my nieces and nephews. Their visits are always fun.
I mean when your uncle is cool enough to let you ring the bell and blow the whistle on a train what kid could possibly be having more fun.

Also, at some point this fall that I don't quite recall I purchased another car. I had looked at this car back in January some time, but he wanted too much and I wasn't really sold on it. I guess nobody else was interested though (which now that I'm saying that probably should have been a sign) and he had drastically dropped the price by the time I stumbled back onto his internet ad.
I'm still prepping for the big car exchange this Christmas with my garage mate. We gave each other a budget of $500 (along with some other rules) last January and each bought a car for the other one. It's going to be a real hoot. (I'm just saying, he's going to have a hard time topping the car I got for him)