Bipolar Thoughts

Creative People

I’ve been mistaken for a creative person once or twice in my life.

I guess that happens when you play an instrument, start a couple of rock bands playing original music, go to design school, work as an architect for a few years, and pick up photography and writing as hobbies.

But the truth is I’m a complete hack in half of those things and rode on coattails for the rest.

I was never a song writer, I was a contributor. And that is sort of how I feel about my creative side generally; I contribute to things. I’m not a generator. Those are the truly creative ones. The contributors tend to take up a few different roles, either the helper or the critic.

I’m good at both. My time at design school was spent mostly in one of those two capacities. When it came to my own projects, I needed heavy input from others to even get an idea off the ground and none of it was ever ground breaking. I was a mimic. I saw something I liked and I copied.

I helped other students a lot. I spent a ton of time talking with students about their projects and being critical and supportive and offering thoughts and ideas. I also spent a good portion of end of semester activities as a critic for lower level studio critiques. I really enjoyed it, I still enjoy it. I have a critical brain, it is good at finding flaws and sometimes I can think of a solution. For awhile I thought about going into architectural journalism, but the Freep as an architecture critic already, and this town isn’t big enough for two.

Architecture isn’t necessarily a creative endeavor, surprisingly. Certainly most of it has nothing to do with aesthetic creativity, although a good portion of it is engineering, which is a more logical form of creativity. I was considered a designer at my first job and worked mostly in that position for a couple years. I would basically see a project from the beginning, big picture planning phase and move on once most of the exterior was set. Sometimes I would roll in when an interior space needed a nice touch. But I was never alone in finding a solution. I was always working with at least one other person. I was in over my head, and that was the most creative time in my life.

Photography, the way I do it, isn’t creative in the least bit. I’m not thinking through shots or setting up angles to imbue an image with a sense of anything. I see a pretty flower, I find the best way I can shoot it, done. I know the technical side of shooting, that’s about it. Much like I know the techniques involved in fretting a note or holding a pencil, but none of that makes me creative.

And as for writing, I’m basically just talking through my keyboard. Yeah, I have things to say, but no one can really look at this as crafted, right? I’m literally just stream of consciousnessing this right now.

So no, I am not creative. I wish I was. I think creativity is the highest form of intelligence. It is the only thing that really matters, the world is driven by imaginative people. I have such a tremendous respect for the inventive person, the artist, that I try to distance myself as much as possible from association with them, even if I hold them in close friendship. I want desperately to be one of them, but I don’t want to disrespect them by naming myself one.

Bipolar and creativity are often tagged together. I’ve tread this ground a little in past writings so I won’t go too much into this again. But generally, I see this as folly. I think depressed people maybe develop their thoughts more (because they spend a lot of time alone and in bed), or are less afraid to express themselves in an artistic way. I do think that comedy is a symptom of depression, but isn’t necessary for it. I think it is a symptom in that a lot of depressed people use laughing for two things: first, to deflect people from knowing how bad they feel, and second, to feel better themselves.

Sometimes you just have to laugh at this disease.

Creating things, whether it be as sophisticated as a mural or mosaic, or as simple as dinner, can be a great outlet for stress, a great way to understand yourself, a great way to lose yourself in something other than your pain. I always go to my guitar, or nowadays my keyboard, to get away from stress. Throwing yourself into a book, where you constantly create the imagery for the story, can be therapeutic as well.

Unfortunately, my lack of creativity often stresses me out too. My lack of skill on the guitar or with a camera, my lack of ability to put words together, my lost love of drawing, they all get me down. It is another reminder that I am not the person I want to be. So for me, going to those things to help turn me around can be dangerous. Sometimes I am driven to improve, sometimes it just want to cry about it. It is hard to know exactly what will happen before I get into it.

I often think that if I was more creative, a lot of my problems would never have materialized. I would’ve become a great architect, so I wouldn’t have so many weird feelings about my career. I could still have a great band and rock out a couple times a week. I could draw or capture beautiful pictures of my daughter, making me smile endlessly.

But that isn’t the truth. I would always want more, want to be more, have more. I would never be satisfied with what I could do. I would have all the career problems I had before I got out of architecture. Maybe my lack of time to be creative would bother me more. All the grass is always greener stuff I can think of.

A goal of mine this year is to develop my creative endeavors, and utilize them more in my recovery. Hopefully I can find a way to get over my reservations about my abilities and find joy in them.