The misty mornings of autumn have revealed the sheer number of spider webs thickly covering bushes and trees like decorations. How can so many millions of creatures be capable of such works of art? Where does that knowledge come from? You don’t see web-spinning workshops, or even apprentice spiders watching clumsily from the edge of grown ups’ webs; they just know. It must be in their bones, or at least their exoskeleton.
Elsewhere, a few weeks ago I was at the Deen City Farm Harvest Festival. A friend had asked me to run a whittling stall. Not to sell wonky spoons, just to extol the delights of going into the forest, cutting down sticks and carving them into shapes. Sometimes I just stood and ate cake, but quite a few people came along to talk, especially tennagers. What struck me was the number of people who said “I’d love to do that but I never could, I’m not creative”.
I know how they feel; I used to say the same thing only 2 years ago. How easy it seems to be to lose touch with our own innate creativity. Are we so intelligent that we have reasoned ourselves out it?
Spiders don’t seem to psych themselves out of webspinning. So my only response was inspired by what the average spider would suggest: ‘pick up a stick and try’. One “uncreative” girl was delighted with the mushroom she promptly produced (also highly seasonal).
She was equally proud of the bleeding wound she gave herself. My hobby involves sharp instruments, but all creative pursuits involve risk. Creativity is a primal thing, and I have repeatedly noticed how primal experiences are recoiled from in the modern way of life. The invisible magical creative force that makes a spider a channel for a web, or a girl a channel for a wooden mushroom, is for some reason considered scary. Perhaps the medieval peasant in us thinks we’ll be burned at the stake for witchcraft. Or maybe we’re afraid to reveal something of ourselves. Or maybe we are taught to steer clear of being crap at anything.
But something tells me that spiders don’t even cock up their first web, probably because they don’t think, they just spin. Thinking gets in the way. Creativity surely is not a brainteaser, its source is more instinctual, like any other magical force. And in small, unremarkable acts of creativity I discover buried parts of myself – parts that, when given some daylight, make my heart sing.
The nice thing at the whittling event is that it only took the most minor piece of encouragement for a couple of those young people to get out of their heads and have a go. No-one’s life was changed that day I suspect. But the fact that only a tiny coax was necessary made me wonder how absent such sideways nudges must be in the narrow alleyways of modern industrial life. I know for sure that my experience of mechanical offices, where rational results rule and messy instinct is avoided, fed my belief that I wasn’t creative.
Sometimes my sophisticated brain can put me at such a disadvantage to those clever spiders, who haven’t had their magic educated out of them or been outwitted by their own creativity.