CRE­AT­ING COL­UMN A fresh per­spec­tive can in­spire cre­ativ­ity.

By view­ing things di er­ently, we can bring a whole new cre­ative out­look to our lives

In the Moment - - Contents - Words: Sara Tasker (@me­an­dorla) / Illustration: Bene­dict Blyth

Travel broad­ens the hori­zons, they say, but I don’t think I ever fully ex­pe­ri­enced that un­til my re­cent trip to Aus­tralia. We left York­shire in early May; pink blos­som on the trees, blue­bells hid­ing in the shad­ows. The sun was shin­ing but we’d still been light­ing the re at night, fend­ing o that typ­i­cal Bri­tish even­ing chill.

We ar­rived in au­tumn sun­light. The Sydney trees were turn­ing am­ber and gold, crispy leaves crunch­ing un­der­foot. But it was warm. So warm, to our Bri­tish sen­si­bil­i­ties, that we shucked o our coats, wound down the cab win­dows and then threw open the bal­cony doors in our suite.

We ven­tured up to the rooftop pool the next day, let­ting the golden warmth soak into our bones, and when we felt hot we dipped in the pool to cool o . But there was some­thing di er­ent about us. None of the other res­i­dents ever came to use the pool. Stranger still, all the na­tive Aussies we saw were trussed up in pu a jack­ets, boots and hats. A shop as­sis­tant, ad­mir­ing my sun­dress, ex­plained for us: “When you’re used to the heat, 22°C feels freez­ing!”

Wan­der­ing back, we en­coun­tered some birds by the har­bour­side. Long-billed with black feet and star­tling vast al­abaster wings, they were ut­terly ex­otic to us. Spot­ting our pas­tries, a cou­ple made their way over, and I was en­chanted to nd that they would gen­tly take food from my hand. I shared a photo on In­sta­gram – what were these strange, Juras­sic-look­ing crea­tures? I was ooded with replies. Turns out they were ibis, known to Aus­tralians as the ‘bin chicken’ thanks to count­less ru­ined child­hood pic­nics, trips to the beach and up­ended trash cans. Many were ve­he­ment in their dis­like of these birds, and aghast that I would let them get close, let alone feed them. But when your daily life is pi­geons and mice, city wa­ter waders are sur­pris­ingly mag­i­cal. Like an alien who’s never been to Earth be­fore, see­ing things with naive and vir­gin eyes gives an en­tirely di er­ent per­spec­tive on life. How many of our per­cep­tions, then, are shaped by our en­vi­ron­ment? We of­ten see things as in­con­tro­vert­ible facts: what’s hot and what’s cold, cheap or ex­pen­sive. To me,

ve hours is a su­per-long drive, but to the Aussies I met, a week­end trip could eas­ily re­quire driv­ing twice that.

These self-im­posed rules are at work in our cre­ative lives, too. We see our cre­ative work as less im­por­tant, as the thing to do af­ter all the ‘real’ work is done. Per­haps we judge the suc­cess of our pho­tog­ra­phy by how many likes it gets on so­cial me­dia, or mea­sure our skill as a writer by blog com­ments. Many of us don’t even feel able to de­scribe our­selves as ‘cre­ative’, be­liev­ing it be­longs to other, more tal­ented peo­ple, not ‘nor­mal’ peo­ple like us.

These things are so sub­jec­tive and rel­a­tive, but when we’re sur­rounded by oth­ers who only re­in­force the mes­sage, it can be hard to see any al­ter­nate re­al­ity. The

rst step to chang­ing that, then, is do­ing what Aus­tralia did for me – nd the peo­ple who see things di er­ently to you.

With al­go­rithms man­ag­ing all of our so­cial me­dia, we’re in­creas­ingly be­ing fun­nelled into a spi­ral of sim­i­lar­ity. We’re shown the ac­counts of peo­ple who vote and shop like us; asked if we want to con­nect with those with the same habits and in­ter­ests as us. To break that cy­cle, we have to go o -piste: what’s go­ing down on In­sta­gram with Ja­panese teenagers right now? What are women in Iran tweet­ing about? Who’s cre­at­ing some­thing di er­ent to what you nor­mally see, and how can you see more of it?

@can­dice­brath­waite puts out a reg­u­lar home­made TV show on her In­sta­gram sto­ries. @mis­s_­mag­pie_spy draws fash­ion por­traits of women of all sizes, eth­nic­i­ties and abil­i­ties. @with­juliekirk crafts witty and heart-wrench­ing prose out of snip­pets of news­pa­per ar­ti­cles. As the fem­i­nist adage goes, “we can­not be what we can­not see”. Let’s take con­trol of what we’re look­ing at, and start shap­ing our per­cep­tions to­wards a more cre­ative out­look.

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