Do you remember as a kid how water was like a magnet, how even the smallest puddle would be pulling you over, how any kind of water would instigate unrestrained playfulness? Do you remember how much fun and excitement water would spark in you? Of if not, do you today at least notice how kids of all kinds—as they indeed always have—cannot resist playing with water?
For some time now, I have been pondering about how human’s interaction with water so much is a picture of how we nurture our creativity. It starts with unstructured excitement when we are kids, excitement that just spurs our imagination, whether we talk about playing with water or other creative activities. In the beginning we don’t feel like we have to interact or be creative in a certain way, we act completely uninhibited and we don’t feel intimidated by neither water nor the creative process. Moreover, we don’t require anything but water itself—whether a bucket of water, a puddle or the ocean breaking on a beach—and then of course ourselves to venture into a imaginary world where nothing but play and joy exist.
Then as we grow older and mature some of that excitement vanishes for most of us, we «learn» how to handle water or creativity, how we are supposed to behave around water or photograph or draw or write or… you get the picture. Some of us even get completely estranged to water or the creative process. In worst cases, some even develop hydrophobia. We lose the playfulness and the unrestrained imagination that originally was set off by water.
Or, some go the other way. They start to explore water in more elaborate ways, start to bring in different tools in the interaction with water. We start out maybe in a small rowing boat, then maybe we discover the beauty of the underworld by diving, we learn to sail, or buy faster boats to explore shores further away—or just the speed we can travel over waters.
Either ways, I think we lose some of that pure playfulness close contact with water that the child in us so delightfully discovered in the early years. As grownups, either we stay away from water or we need all kinds of expensive machinery to explore it. We stand to lose that pure joy water used to trigger in us.
I don’t say that machinery is bad in any way. It can both expand the experience and be limiting. However, whether we find excitement in using a speedboat or a kayak or just swim around in the sea, I think it’s important to hold on to that first childish feeling of freedom and unrestrained playfulness that we so much enjoyed as a kid.
Water can be used in so many ways. It’s only our imagination that limits our interaction with water. We can play like a child with water, we can swim in water, we can use water to develop our competitiveness, we can use water to explore foreign shores, to experience speed or just the splash of sea in heavy wind. Just as creativity.
So maybe it’s time to reset our minds. If you want to develop your creative skills and abilities, maybe you should try to be more like the child you used to be. Explore water with no deliberate purpose, just be playful and have fun. Maybe you should let the child in you flourish, not let learned approaches of how things are supposed to be, restrain you. Let the child lose again.
Just to clarify. The use of water as a way of understanding creativity is nothing but a metaphor. By that, I don’t mean that anyone with hydrophobia, cannot be creative! I have a sister that have such fear of water that she will never enter into any water deeper that her knees—well hardly above her ankles. She even resist taking ferries because they sail on water. She is nevertheless one of the most creative persons I know.
So when was the last time you let the child in you play with water?