Constraints and Creativity – A Lesson From My 5 Month Old Baby

Constraints and Creativity

Watching my daughter Maysarah growing up is a magical experience. She just turned 10 months old and tender as she may be, she has already taught me life lessons. Like the relationship between constraints and creativity.

I want to share it with you today.

At about 5 months old, am alone with her in the living room. I am on the carpet legs stretching out with my back against the sofa watching TV. She is by my side on her tummy busy with her toys. I am not paying much attention. She rolls on her back and then back on her tummy. In a few seconds the oscillation happens one more time.

I start to wonder but decide to be patient and see what she is up to. I observe her raise her head up from the ground, looks at the other end of the room and lowers it down. She looks like a curious cat after something. She then struggles to make a lateral turn, almost setting herself at a right angle from her original position.

Her movement is deliberate. She has my utmost attention now!

She rolls again. Once, twice and finally stops next to a bunch of keys that had been there all this time. She reaches out with her tinny hand, pulls the keys and puts them in her mouth.

What? I am out of my mind thinking how on earth did she figure that out? She loves putting keys in her mouth to date by the way.

I fixated over my baby’s vector processing abilities but I now realize it is  much more than my fascination with her IQ (God I hope she is a genius though!) The bunch of keys were there, she wanted them, she got to them. With all that is minimizing her abilities to getting the keys – she could not walk (she could not even crawl yet), she could not talk to ask for them, she got them by getting creative. She mobilized herself with what she had and achieved her goal.

An infant teaching me the literal meaning of thinking out of the box!

Most of us know what we want but we face too many hurdles along the way we end up thinking why bother?

Constraints are paramount to creativity. Think about it, if you had unlimited resources – gear, time, money, would you need to be creative? What excitement does one draw from getting everything given to them on a silver platter? If you are lazy may be. As long as you have a brain, there is a lot of gratification in watching what falls out from its bushes every time you shake it!

Constraints are switches to creativity, push the buttons!

We all face snags in our craft more times than we wish and it gets to us. But that is alright, it is part of growth for any creative. Embrace them. As a matter of fact impose constraints on yourself just to see how far you can push your limits.

Owning a multiple camera bodies and lenses does not make you a better photographer than you already are. Stop worrying about what you do not have and focus on making photographs. Chances of missing an opportune moment while changing lenses or switching cameras are high. It is much easier to lift what you already have in yours hands and clicking the shutter button.

Constraints are inevitable whether you superimpose them on yourself or they find you by chance. However you choose to see them, lift your head up to see where the bunch of keys are, turn and start rolling.