10June2017, Early afternoon...
Fred is the male Red Eared Slider turtle that lives in the backyard with George and Martha, my American Buff Geese (both female). Fred has been back there about 18 months now. He made it through winter hibernation by burrowing under GnM's hay in the goose house. I have a turtle pond for him but it often required my chasing him down and putting him in the pond in order to feed him. My limited online research indicates that turtles cannot eat unless they are in water making water essential. Fred spends most of his time out of the water, but come dinner time, it's into the pond. Problem was Fred had a bit of difficulty getting into and out of the pond on his own. And, when I'd chase him down, it was clear from his body language that he'd prefer I just left him alone. (Yes, turtles have a body language. The tilt of his head. The hissing noise. The rapid running (Yes, turtles can actually run.) in the opposite direction. And this is just when he sees me!) So, I needed a better solution for the turtle pond.
What I Had on Hand:
Yep. You read that last part right. A skateboard ramp. Total length about 5 feet. Maximum height about 10 inches. It's in three pieces so one ramp goes in the water. One ramp stays outside. The stage that connects them is put on with wing nuts and is the part that traverses the vertical side of the pool.
The problem, of course, is that this floats. So, bricks. Two on each end to provide enough weight to keep the ends down where they're needed.
As for the rest, plants in pots. Pots in pond. Looks cool at this point.
As for the food issue... Apparently, young turtles, requiring more protein, eat lots of bugs while older turtles, like Fred, eat mostly plants. Turns out there are several companies that make turtle chow -- one kind for the little guys and another for the more mature turtles. Both float. So, Fred in water. Toss turtle food on water. Watch Fred come up from under the food, grab it, and disappear. SUCCESS!!!
So, you ask, what has all this long turtle tale to do with creativity?
Remember a while back we talked about the unusual uses test of creativity? No? Might want to check that out...
Well, unusual uses is not only a TEST of creativity, it is also a WAY of creativity.
I find that when I need something I don't think I have, I begin by listing the necessary attributes of that thing (like the turtle ramp). Then I add to that list the additional nice-to-have attributes. Then I start looking around at what I have. Often I find that I have something that comes pretty close or can be modified to fit.
If I'm forced into shopping, I'll do a search on the attributes, not just what I've named the thing I'm looking for. For example, I didn't search for turtle ramp but I did search for ramp. The search turned up a huge assortment of ramps for varying purposes. The skateboard ramp was something I NEVER would have thought of until it came up in the search.
This is what's called the Eureka phenomenon. When you are working on a problem, you have prepared your mind by studying the essential elements of the problem, you have opened yourself to possibilities that you have not yet imagined, and you find it. Eureka!!!
This is creative problem solving. This is creativity at its best.
So many people erroneously equate creative with artistic. You do not have to be an artist to be creative. Nor, I suspect, do you have to be creative to be an artist (based on what I've seen). Some of the most important creative efforts in the history of the world have NOTHING to do with art. Generations of engineers and scientists have given us a legacy of creation that makes our world possible.
You do not have to have "talent" to be creative. The word "talent" implies that you are somehow born with the ability to create. I don't know if that's even possible but I do know that you can LEARN TO BE CREATIVE. As with any skill, it requires learning and practice. Learn (read). Try. Fail. Learn some more. Try again. That's the creative process that eventually leads to success.
We are all able to create. It comes more easily to some than to others. And, I believe that it's easier when you are creating something that you are passionate about. But we can all do it.
Deborah K Smith, PhD
As a self-proclaimed mixed media artist and creative professional, I am in my 3rd career, having spent 15 years as a software developer and another 15 as a university professor. My first love and my most demanding one has always been creating whether it be a drawing, a bit of crocheted lace, a cloth doll, a piece of software, a PhD dissertation, or a piece of digital art. I simply LOVE to make things and I see make and make-over opportunities everywhere. My only regret is that there is no possible way that I can live long enough to make all of the things I see in my mind.