Can Paying Attention to Dreams Increase Creativity?

One of my creativity research posts at Psychology Today. The study shows that simply thinking about the detail and vividness of your dreams each day can boost creativity. Click the dreamcatcher if you’d like to read the post.

Iron Mountain Road

via Daily Prompt: Climbing

Iron Mountain Road is a 17 mile stretch of U.S. Highway 16A that winds through a second iphone 1237beautiful section of the Black Hills in South Dakota. But truthfully, to say it winds does not pay due respect to this asphalt work of art. It twists and turns, climbs and falls, squeezes through tunnels, and corkscrews back on itself in a way that forces riders to go slowly enough to appreciate the beauty. The official description includes 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, 3 pigtails, 3 tunnels, 2 splits and 4 presidents. Four presidents? Yep. One end of 16A is near the entrance to Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, and riders are treated to a view of Messrs. Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln off in the distance through the tunnels.

I am there to attend the 75th Annual Sturgis Bike Rally. Bikers who come to the rally come to party or to ride, and as I begin my trek along 16A, I hope that those groups are mutually exclusive.

The first section of mostly gentle curves allows me to nudge the throttle just a bit, only having to rein it in approaching a few sharper ones. But soon, I reach what seems to be a continuous string of pigtails, tunnels and switchbacks. The first of the pigtails appears, seemingly out of nowhere just after leaving a narrow tunnel, and I quickly downshift moments before I’m led around a 360 degree turn and pass under what looks like a wooden bridge supporting the road I’ve just traversed.

The ride overall is a full body, mind and sensory experience. It’s not just the exquisite sensation of my body leaned into the curves, but the absolute, full attention and immersion in the moment, the deep-throated growl of the engine, the vibrations reaching me through the seat and handlebars, the changing smells cruising past different vegetation, and the alternating coolness and warmth on my skin as I pass into and out of shaded areas.

I nod to the presidents as I exit the last of the tunnels but do not stop for a selfie with them. It’s time to get myself on into Keystone for a well-earned cold one now that my ride is finished, and let my body and mind reflect on the wonder of it all. As I park and climb off, I notice a fellow biker wearing an Iron Mountain Road t-shirt that reads simply “What Dragon?” I smile as I remember I’m wearing my Tail of the Dragon shirt with the map on the back. We will have much to talk about.

A Couple Surprises

via Photo Challenge: Surprise

This was a different sort of surprise. I was experimenting with my iPhone, trying to capture blurred motion of cars at night. These ghostly figures walked past just as I clicked the shot.

walkers_blur

Again with iPhone, now in macro mode. I liked the bits of pollen scattered about the flower and the tiny speck on the the bee’s front left leg.

bee_on_flower

If you’re interested using your iPhone for photography, here’s a great site with lots of tips about using it more creatively.

Another good source is Art with an iPhone, by Kat Sloma that can help you get the most out of your phone.

And here are just some general thoughts about Photography as Creative Expression.

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017

 

 

 

Can Conformity Be Creative?

I wanted to share one of my creativity research posts from Psychology Today, a great place to learn about topics in Psychology. This post is about how copying ideas that challenge your assumptions can increase your creativity. Click the abstract picture to read it if you’d like to know more. It opens in a new tab or window.

A Dark Tunnel

via Daily Prompt: Blindly

I love word combinations. One of the great things about combinations is that they reveal the near-infinite complexity, the wide range of nuances, hiding within the individual words. Take blindly. It most often has a figurative sense of doing things mindlessly, without thinking, understanding or judgment. You might follow others or fall for a person blindly, etc. But it also has a direct, literal sense of not physically seeing things around you. To help pull out those subtleties I sometimes randomly generate pairings, in this case verbs with the adverb blindly.

One verb that came up was creep and it birthed this fragment:

“We creep blindly through the engulfing darkness of the tunnel, not daring even a whisper, communicating only with subtle shifts in the pressure of fingers encircling the ankle of the one in front, slight angling of that bony joint in response. The heat is punishing, pressing on us, seeming to constrict our narrow passage even more. The sweat has long since drenched our clothing, making it adhere to the clay as we inch along crablike. How long have we been moving? I realize I have no idea. The unrelenting darkness has shut down not just vision but also the connections to most other gauges of experience. The only heightened sense is hearing as we listen for the slightest of shufflings from behind that would signal pursuit. How long until we reach the end, hopefully undiscovered so that we may rise and sprint to speed our escape? …”

I don’t know yet who might be pursuing them, where they might be headed or if they escape, but the combination “creep blindly” set a whole train of thought in motion, different than other random combinations that came up, such as inject blindly, stab blindly, rule blindly, prepare blindly, honor blindly and so on.

I’ll say more about the program I use in a different post, but this one is already getting too long.

Cheers

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017

How Are We to Heal?

via Daily Prompt: Heal

Haiku (of sorts)

 

how are we to heal

bleeding planet gashed by hate

one heart at a time

 

how are we to heal

weeping planet asking love

one heart at a time

 

how are we to heal

reaching now to different ones

one heart at a time

 

Explanation, skip if too boring: I typically don’t explain what I write. The words will either stand or fall on their own, but I wanted to give a bit of background on this. First, I thought about the old parable about the grandfather telling his grandson that there are two wolves always at war inside each of us, one representing hatred and fear, the other representing love and bravery. When the grandson asks which one wins, the grandfather answers “the one you feed.” Let us feed our loving wolves. Second “one heart at a time” is an adaptation of the story from which the title of Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird, derives. She describes how her brother was daunted by needing to complete a long report on birds, and her father kindly advised “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” None of us can accomplish the seemingly daunting task of healing the world alone. But we can each take it heart by heart, one heart at a time. Finally, I’ve never tried haiku before but the phrase “how are we to heal” would not leave me alone, so its five syllables was a start.

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017

Outlier Than Thou?

via Daily Prompt: Outlier

In H. G. Wells’ World War I novel, Mr. Britling Sees It Through, Hugh Britling writes home to his father, grousing about British military officers, “…they do not think hard, and they do not understand that doing a job properly means doing it as directly and thought-outly as you possibly can.”

What can we say about the officers’ limited approaches? If they weren’t doing their jobs as thought-outly as possible, then we are forced to conclude that they should have been doing things, in a word (or two), thought-outlier.

Outlier: (out—lee—ur), adj. the quality of being more outly or possessing more outliness. 😉

To extend this outlier construct, things that are more extraordinary or wonderful in some way must be far-outlier. And so on…

And one more stretch, now that outly is an adjective, we should all strive to be as outly as we can be…

Ok…so this post was a cop-out, but perhaps not too cop-outlier than some others. 😉

PS – Kudos (or partial blame) to Orange-Haired Woman for the question about pronunciation that led me to think of outlier as an adjective, and thinkinkadia for proposing the new personality trait of out-liar that provided more inspiration.

Copyright ©  Thomas Ward 2017