Recently, I took one of those aptitude tests for my day job to determine my strengths. Surprisingly, one of the strengths I scored highest is my ability to collect and process information. Apparently, I do a great deal of observing, and that apparently is a good trait. It is surprising not because I don’t think I have this trait– in fact know that I do– but it is surprising to me that it would be considered a strength at all. Upon reflection, I see that it is.
Once, while riding in a car, I annoyed a friend when I kept pointing out things I observed along the way: “Look at that huge murder of crows on the telephone lines. I wonder how many there are?” “I wonder where that fire truck is going. I don’t see any smoke,” “Do you smell that? Someone is baking bread.”
My friend thinks it’s strange that I notice such things. I think it is strange that my friend does not. I think it is a bit self-involved never to look beyond oneself. And for an artist or writer or any sort of person involved in creative expression, it is absolutely necessary to observe beyond oneself.
Furthermore, for a creative it is also important to do more than merely observe. That person must also be aware. That is, the creative must do more than look; she must also see. He must do more than hear; he must also listen. The creative must do more then know; that person must also understand.
When there is full awareness, the creative can then internalize that observation and process it, applying his or her own life experiences and wisdom in order to produce and manifest a creative expression in response. Van Gogh looked upward and beheld the night sky. He understood it, took it into himself, and then painted The Starry Night
Van Gogh was aware.