On Creativity and Tennis Balls

Of late, I’ve been wondering about the nature of creativity. Is creativity something that is built into your genetic makeup? Is it something learned over time? Or is it, perhaps, acquired through the force of habit? Personally, I lean towards the latter hypothesis, that by intentionally mimicking the superficial effects of creativity over long periods of time, one effectively becomes a creative person. Unfortunately, I have not conducted any experiment that might prove or disprove this hypothesis.

Dreams have long fascinated me for this very reason. You wake up in the morning and marvel at the absurdity of the sequences that you experienced during the night (assuming that you do recall some of it). In my personal experience, it’s not that logic has been suspended in dreams, or that paradoxes are taken for granted. Rather, the contradictions are obvious and even well-understood, but you have no choice but to continue forward, because there is a sense of reality to everything. Evolution has taught us that reality may be worked around or controlled to a degree, but must never be disbelieved, lest it get the better of your gene pool.

Our minds are apparently capable of creating these strange sequences that we wouldn’t normally be able to come up with in our waking hours. Last night, I dreamt that I was going to play tennis, something the real me hasn’t done in ages. I figured I would practice my serves (with a vague sense of awareness that the pandemic made it difficult to find actual opponents to play against). I had an hour to play: a dream storyline always has an element of a time crunch that manifests emphatically. Of course, there was simply no explanation for the odd shapes of some of the tennis balls, as if they were cut from a full loaf of bread. Would they bounce correctly? Was I missing something? Should I try these oddly shaped balls? I didn’t have too much time to ponder though, as I only had ten minutes left of the hour that I had started with.

I hypothesize that to be creative is to posit improbable associations. Start from the absurd idea that tennis balls must come from loaves of bread, and chip away at the absurdity over time, until all you’re left with is a Good Idea™️.