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Influence and Creativity

I have a habit of noticing redundancies in other people. Their personalities and their thoughts just seem so similar: daughters trying to be like mothers, or sons trying to be like fathers, or friends trying to be like each other. In my mind the sense of “self” that we as human beings have is more of a delusion than a reality, where we are nothing but the products of a multitude of influences throughout our lives. Did I ever have an original thought in my life? Or is it always someone else’s idea that I am only repeating? What does it mean to be a human being without original thought and creativity? I talk like my friends do. I learned body language from my parents, stories from movies and books, perspectives on life from parents or philosophers or friends or teachers. Despite the myriad of thoughts that make up my personality, I feel as if I only absorbed my surroundings with no real personal creation. My parents keep asking me: “Who have you been hanging out with? Why do you act like this?” as if they already know that the comments I make, or the movies I enjoy or any of my other sudden preferences and mannerisms are not my own. When we are young, the adults tell us that “everyone is `special,’ but how could I believe in this idea of personal creativity and uniqueness when there are so many influences that I copy in my life?Of course, the term “creativity” is almost inherently ambiguous. What do I hope to achieve, or more specifically, what do I feel that I lack because of this supposed lack of personal creativity? When I think of creative minds, I imagine Pablo Picasso or Thomas Edison and the contributions they have made to society or the impact on our emotions. But fame or critical acclaim a…

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…y mine. I don’t see creativity as being some sort of individual contest that must be won as an indication of my uniqueness and verification of my or anyone’s human value. And although I don’t think I fully understand the greater picture regarding the role of influence of creativity in my life and society, maybe the answer is not nearly as complex as it seems. Maybe creativity is a societal, collective process in which everyone has a role. I like to think that the point of creativity and the creative process is not to individually labor over the seminal work of the century, or to painstakingly differentiate one’s self from others.

Creativity should be about the pure enjoyment of having been involved, influencing others and being influenced, combining ideas and preserving those that speak to us, discovering and appreciating all that which is greater than ourselves.

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