I read in Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind–a fascinating book about creativity, happiness, imagination, and the future of work–that a good way to spark creative energy is to pick up magazines that I wouldn’t ordinarily read.
Because I was hoping to find a copy of Art on Paper magazine (see November 24), I wandered into a magazine shop near my gym, and discovered a magazine gold mine—racks lined the room from floor to ceiling, and more piles fanned out across the floor.
Usually I wouldn’t spend money on magazines for a lark, but I reminded myself of my July resolutions to “indulge in a modest splurge” and to “make purchases that will further my goals” (spurring creativity is definitely one of my goals).
So after I located Art on Paper, I walked myself to three different subject sections to pull out a magazine at random. After making sure that I hadn’t accidentally picked up a soft porn magazine—I didn’t know whether the store carried them or not, but I certainly didn’t want to come home with that—I headed for the cash register.
I ended up buying Paper Crafts Gourmet magazine (“easy ideas for food, cards & more!”), Fresh Outlook magazine (“the premier Christian magazine: spirit, body, life, home, business”), and Equus magazine (a special issue on “the Healthy Horse”).
Last night, I looked at each of them from cover to cover. What result?
I have to admit, it was a very interesting exercise. Definitely worth the $13 I spent.
Part of what was interesting was the glimpse provided into other people’s lives and concerns. I’d never thought about the challenges of bringing a horse to the horse hospital or about hoof care.
I loved looking at the homemade cards, invitations, and tags in the craft magazine, and I was also intrigued by the text of a sample invitation for the “Mocktail Party” – “Join us for dinner and mocktails with a Caribbean flair as we celebrate our 13th anniversary.” I understand, of course, that some people don’t drink alcohol. Is it the case that people in social sets where most people don’t drink—people who are observant Mormons, say—have “mocktails”? That was a new thought for me. I guess it shows how strong the tradition of drinking is, and how connected to the idea of celebration.
In Fresh Outlook magazine, a Bible quotation grabbed my attention. All day long, I’d been brooding about how annoyed I was about something someone had done. I really, really, really wanted to complain about it and criticize that person. I knew I shouldn’t. I knew I’d feel remorseful afterwards. Nevertheless, I was itching to pour out my irritation to some sympathetic friend. Then I came to a magazine page that had almost no text on it, so the words stood out in sharp relief: “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.” Proverbs 26:20.
So do I conclude that my magazine purchases sparked my creativity? Yes, I think so. I got some new and unexpected ideas into my brain. And it was a lot of fun—even reading about the life cycle of horse parasites was strangely absorbing.