The Power of Creativity

The reason I value creativity also stems largely in part from my parents.  My Dad is a creator in its fullest sense. As a mind-blowing musician, producer, performer, writer, and general lover of the arts; I was surrounded by all forms of creativity.  And my siblings and I were always invited to take part in my parents art. Sometimes forced (“forced” might be a little strong. Let’s say “strongly encouraged”).  Though perhaps not as talented as the Von Trapp Family, we would have given them a run for their money with the amount performances. We played everywhere from schools, hospitals, fairs, churches, camps, holiday gatherings, living rooms, and the illustrious retirement home.  I was always encouraged to write songs, share those songs, and receive feedback on those songs. Even today my parents are still the biggest fan of my various artistic endeavors.

What I enjoy the most about creating is seeing or hearing or touching or smelling what someone has created and sharing what I have made with others. I do not write songs to brood over them and I find little contentment in writing by myself. I recognize that many  artists do not share my intention as my friends who are completely okay closing their closet door and writing an entire opera dedicated to the sound of the rain hitting their neighbor’s garage roof would testify.  Nearly all aspects of my life I see as an opportunity to create or destroy. I can create an amazing experience and share it with someone as much as I can write a beautiful song and share it with someone. The times in my life when I have been the most depressed and selfish are the times I lose the desire to go and make something. And the most blissful times of my life can be attributed to sharing what I have created or celebrating what someone else has.

In one of my favorite books, The New Parish, the authors describe their experience that a community thrives when members are actively participating in the passions of those in their neighborhood.  This could not be more true in my own experience as well. I have found that if I take a moment to listen a a friend’s song all the way to the end and ask questions about why it was written and how it was recorded, that I have instantly gained an ear from that friend and a future contributor to my own artistic expressions. This applies to nearly everything created. I have asked where the wood came from in making a piece of furniture and what tools were used. I have asked what event or experience inspired the making of a short film. I have asked what convictions provoked a stranger’s desire to go to law school. In transparency I am not always immediately interested in how or why something was made but when I force the questions I gain interest and in so doing I gain community. To fully appreciate the created I must appreciate the creator. This is quite possibly the center of my artistic value. I want people to know me and why I wrote the song or why I built the table. I want people to know that I am curious about their craft because I can learn something about them and about what they have created.

Johnny Cowan