Monkey Business

I read an old issue of Psychology Today with a picture of a monkey on the cover. It’s a chimp actually and he’s sitting in front of an art easel with a paintbrush and a huge grin on his face. There’s the word ‘creativity’ in big red letters and I went a little, well, ape, when I saw it.

            Creativity is my business. As an author and storyteller I spend the bulk of my time creating words on paper or more specifically, a computer screen and I know the realm of creativity like I know nothing else. I seldom monkey around. I get down to business. Why I start each morning with a banana is another question however.

            But the article, and the ideas and the questions it raised for me was vital. There’s a definite process to the act of creation and I’ve never really devoted a lot of scientific thought to it. Instead, I’ve always relied on the teachings of my people.

            What my people say is that we’re all creators. Our teachings tell us that every act is an act of creativity because it makes something occur or present itself that wasn’t there before. We’re magicians. We make things out of nothing all the time. We’re born to create.

            So I wonder why we don’t do it more? That’s biggest question surrounding creativity for me. Monkeys can be taught to paint and they get a huge kick out of it. That tells me that creativity gives a spark to our existence.

            I don’t know how many times people have asked me how to start a novel or a short story or a poem. I’d love to be able to write something, they say,  but I never have the time. Usually they say this while watching television or waiting for something to happen.

            If we all got ourselves to a desk or a work bench or an easel and devoted one hour of every day to bringing something to life we could change everything. It’s all about energy, you see and the more creative energy going out means a lot more things become possible.

            You don’t have to be a genius, a master or even make money. The idea is to create. The idea is to become the creator you already are and to add to the creative energy of the planet. When we do that we shape something marvelous and that’s not just monkey business.


About Richard Wagamese

I am a published author with 13 titles published by major Canadian publishers. I am a First Nations person from the Ojibway Nation in Northwestern, Ontario, Canada. As a professional writer since 1979 I have written for newspaper, radio television, magazines and book publishing. I love the culture of books and the people who populate it. 2012 recipient of the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Media & Communications. View all posts by Richard Wagamese

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