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The Sparks of Creativity
TO IMAGINE is to see possibilities, to envision realities that do not yet exist, and to map out secret paths not yet charted. Our imaginations are our own personal mental playgrounds, where we release our dreams to romp without risk or fear. It is here, in the inner regions of our psyches, that we are free to explore who we truly are and let our thoughts and wishes run wild. It is here that we cook up all our fantasies, our deepest desires, and, very often, all the hopes and longings that we never share with another living soul. It is from this wellspring that we draw the inspiration that serves as the spark for our creative fires.
When I was a little girl, I had a wild imagination. I spun all sorts of ideas and fantasies around in my head that would brim over into impromptu theatrical performances. I exclaimed! I bemoaned! I exulted! I felt so much, and expressed it all. My mother nicknamed me Tallulah, after the legendary actress and diva Tallulah Bankhead, if that gives you any idea what I was like. But somehow I got the message as a child that it wasn't good to be that way: that I should not let out all my emotions and imaginings for all the world to see. My teachers would often sigh with exasperation and say, "Oh, Frannie, what are we going to do with you?"
I had no one with whom I could share my excitement over very important matters such as finding a fuzzy caterpillar clinging to the windowsill outside my bedroom, or how much fun it was to try on my mother's high heels and parade down the makeshift catwalk I constructed in our suburban living room, so out of the overspill of imagination I created an equally ecstatic imaginary friend named Locky Lee Boom Boom. Locky Lee and I would have fabulous tea parties and make endless lists of boys we liked (and boys who smelled funny), exotic places we planned to visit one day, and whom we would thank when we won our first Academy Award. Locky Lee was always right there, ready to play in whatever scenario I could dream up.
Somehow, life gives us the message loud and clear that imagination is a Sunday-afternoon luxury that we should put away as we mature. As many of us grow up and add on degrees and jobs and all the other stuff that is part of life, we bid farewell to our Locky Lee Boom Booms and dreams of distant memory and do what the world signals as necessary: look ahead, set goals, stick to the game plan. It is the rare few who are able-or who dare-to retain that childlike sense of wonder and become what we eventually call artistic, creative, gifted. Sometimes we even call them weird. But secretly, we sense that they are somehow better off than we-perhaps happier, more blessed.
They aren't any different from us, really, except in one fundamental way: Their imaginations refused to be pushed underground. They live of and through their dreams, not through effort, but by nature. The most miraculous thing about imagination is that it never dies, no matter how many layers of life and work we pile on top of it.
The opportunity to revisit and rekindle our dreams and imaginative powers is always there. Imagination is not something we have to cultivate; it is who we are in our most private realms, and all we need to do to access it is open the internal windows and set it free.
It is there in every single one of us. I promise! I have seen even the most buttoned-down, serious types come alive like little kids in their gardens once they let themselves go and start to play.
Martin, for instance, was one of my first clients. He brought me in to design the landscaping of his new home, which was purchased for him by his employer when they moved him and his family from Chicago. Martin was all business: We met at 8:30 A.M. sharp, and he let me know right away what the budget was and how soon he expected the work to be completed. I can still remember the look on his face when I said, "Okay, then, why don't we start by talking a little bit about what you imagine for this space?"
I could tell this wasn't on Martin's agenda, but I had been referred to him by his new boss, so I think he felt he had to go along with the program. He took off his jacket and sat down at the kitchen table with me, and we started to talk about different ideas.
At first Martin was reluctant to say much, but I sensed there was something under there, so I pressed. Well, wouldn't you know that within forty-five minutes, Martin had pulled out a box of his son's colored pencils and was excitedly sketching out "just a few thoughts" he had? It was amazing to watch the transformation: The hard lines of his face softened, and his whole body seemed looser and more relaxed as he drew. Two hours later, when he walked me to the door, I would swear I was shaking the hand of a whole other person from the one I met on the way in.
A garden can be a wonderful place to reopen the window to your imagination, especially when it isn't yet a garden at all, but rather a blank space that you hope to transform into a garden. An untouched piece of land is such pure opportunity, just like a clean canvas or a fresh piece of white paper. In its nakedness, it is raw possibility. Onto it you can project any vision or wish you like, continually erasing and trying new mental pictures, again and again.
This initial stage is about sparking our creative memories, opening ourselves up to a sense of freedom and possibility, awakening the stirrings of play and spontaneity. The only thing you need to do from the outset is to commit to not having any agenda and not worrying about what will work and what won't work. There is nothing to figure out here-nothing you need to accomplish, no puzzle you need to solve. You can't claim your imaginative powers through force. A sense of wonder is not something to achieve, but rather something to awaken, moment by precious moment.
Even Albert Einsten, whose very name has become synonymous with intelligence, once remarked, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
Excerpted from Digging Deeply by Fran Sorin Copyright © 2004 by Fran Sorin. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted July 22, 2012
I usually don't write reviews about books but with this one I couldn't help myself! What an inspirational book. Read it in one sit down. Everyone should have a copy of this on their bookshelves!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 6, 2004
My secretary lent me this book because she says I keep on talking about getting a few flowers and I never do anything about it! And she was tired of coming to bar-b-ques on my cement patio! The book was such a joy. At about the third chapter I started doing the homework assignments and now I have 2 bromeliads and a tree shrub (whose name I can't remember, but the author, Fran Sorin, points our that that doesn't matter!) I bought the book for my Mom and we actually went to a nursery last weekend (where I got that tree shrub)! All I can say, is that I feel like my life is fuller, and I don't know exactly why, but Digging Deep talks about that's what happens when you start to pay attention to the plant life around you. And so, I just want to say to anyone who is reading this... PAY ATTENTION TO FRAN SORIN'S BOOK because it really opens your eyes and makes life so much fun. Even when I am driving long distances to cover my sales territory - I notice the trees and grasses in the medians.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 3, 2004
Fran Sorin, in the most elegant, yet simple way, assists each of us who has ever listed reasons why we can't do something. She uses the garden as a metaphor for our creative souls. She gives us practical, useful tasks for approaching the garden and ourselves while sharing personal anecdotes from her work in her own and others' gardens. This is a different gardening book because it faces the fears and limitations we all impose on ourselves. Anyone who has ever faced an empty pot, a barren plot of ground, or a blank page can benefit from this unusual link to creativity and gardening.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 20, 2004
We loved Fran Sorin`s book.If flowers and plants could talk,they will say one big thank you to Fran.She is a gift to all of us with her great ability to make gardeningfun,simple and relaxing.You will go very far Fran.keep up your gift of writing.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.