It was a safe place to launch.
Funny how lessons from childhood get learned so well you forget there was a time before you knew them.
My dad did the building back in 1966 based on a simple plan found in the always inspiring Better Homes and Gardens. A kid size A-Frame with porch, ‘bay’ window, screens and furniture.
Comfortable for 4, room for all (phone booth style). Its purpose shifted on a whim. When ideas were short it stood as the starting point without forcing direction.
Play house? Of course.
Neighborhood club, general store, doctor’s office? No problem, why stop there.
It was a guard post marking the boundary between the wilds of the alley and safety of the backyard. A must stop engagement during hide and seek. (Not a good place to hide, but some never learn.) A warming hut during ice-skating.
And around Halloween Witch Hazel made the occasional visit with crystal ball and caldron. (A fact made a tad bit more frightening given the pet birds, gerbils, and rabbits that were buried around back in fine Buster Brown cardboard caskets. Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery really resonated in high school.)
This is going to make me sound stupid, but I just got the Witch Hazel pun. My dad is still cracking me up.
Learning Personal Creativity
I’ve learned to rely on three basic sources of creativity over the years. Needed, Structured, and Serendipitous. When all three are in balance ideas seem to flow more easily, each source reinforcing the other. Looking back on my childhood I think I started to learn the balance around The Little House.
- Needed: The source for much creativity. The need to get something done, to be entertained, to simplify. It gets you out of bed in the morning. It’s the reason the creative muse comes looking.
- Structured: Patterns can make creativity easier. Routines create space for ideas. Deadlines fight procrastination. Structured simply makes sure the creative muse knows where to find you.
- Serendipitous: The magic that most people focus on. The idea out of the blue. The random connection that changes your world. The muse hits you along side the head.
The first two sources are the work that prepares you for the serendipitous event. Having safe-spaces can help create the balance. Can be a launching pad.
“What do you want to do?”
“No, what do you want to do?”
“I asked first….”
The little house was one of the places we could wander to and build a fun afternoon from.
It was like a permanent cardboard box waiting to be opened.
Today my safe spaces and launching pads are a bit different. They’ve evolved beyond place to include people, routines, and even a touch of enforced randomness. But they serve the same purpose. Places to start from. Places where the creative muse knows to find me.
Writing has become one of those structures that drives creative connections. It enforces the balance between need, structure and serendipity. Over the years I’ve been surprised at how regularly forcing my sometimes random thoughts onto a page can prompt ideas to evolve in very useful ways. For example this post developed from the serendipitous connection between the “How Do You Write To Learn” subject at Joyful Jubilant Learning and a recent re-connect with a few of the old neighborhood friends (Hi Barb, Patty and Steve).
Add a quick walk through my Mom’s amazingly organized photo albums and I suddenly remember that my parents taught me the fundamentals of creativity on Grand Opening day at The Little House.
(To which I arrived via The Little Red Car, but that is a story for another day.)