"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."
Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.
First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Creative Problem Solving
I laughed out loud when she described her garden - overrun by Queen Anne’s Lace (one of my personal favorites, so I saw this as positive) and thistle gone to seed. “There I was,” she wrote, “standing in a thistle patch with the shop vac, trying to suck up the seeds from the vegetation and ground. It looked like a cottonwood grove down there. But how whacko is that - an aging (well, probably little old) lady vacuuming her YARD? Yikes.”
Oh, I don’t know. Sounds like creative problem solving to me. I once used a shop vac to remove a dead rat (or what was left of it) from my hot tub. That was memorable.
Thinking about this led to a few other creative problem solving efforts I’ve witnessed lately. For instance, I took a tamale pot to my fabricator guy last week, and asked him to make a stainless steel chimney for it. I wanted a taller, bigger chimney than my current version, so we could steam longer, wider lengths of cloth in my next workshop. The next day he produced a new and improved stainless steel model with a flared edge. Now the stack sits on the pot, instead of inside it. His innovation added height to the steamer and expanded my steaming horizons exponentially. He grinned from ear to ear. Then he suggested we go into business together.
Even the cats I know have been problem solving this summer. Dexter, a yellow tabby with a mischievous personality and a heart a mile wide, went to live with a friend last April, when it was obvious he needed people. I was on the road more than either of us liked. His new hostess, Leila, wrote to me recently. She’d gotten Dexter a harness, because he longed to be outdoors, but the coyotes unnerved her.
Dexter proceeded to escape from the harness every time she put him in the yard. Mystified, Leila determined to disarm his trick. Prepared with a magazine and a cool drink, she stretched out in a lounge on the deck, ignoring Dexter, who lolled in the harness a few feet away.
Leila peered over the top of The New Yorker magazine. Dexter had forgotten about her, and was busily licking the fur on his right shoulder. When it was sufficiently damp, he switched to his left shoulder. In no time at all his fur gleamed with cat spit, allowing him to wriggle free of the harness. He sprang to the deck, and then to her lap, where he purred with yellow cat pride.
A brilliant cat move on his part. Creative problem solving at its best.
I take heart in stories that underscore one tenet of my life as an artist.
It isn’t always about creativity in the studio.
I guess I could be a monastic and make art alone - without friends or animals to distract. Carole could allow her garden to wither. We could sell our possessions and forsake the assorted pleasantries of life. But maybe seeking balance is part of the creative repertoire. Solving any problem creatively, no matter how small or insignificant, carries a reward that makes it worth it. It all adds up. I had a boyfriend once, who said his real goal was to be a hermit and play the trumpet up on the mountain all by himself while he meditated on the world and wished it peace. All I can say is that I think it's more admirable to stay in the trenches, spreading the good news of creative problem solving around right here, where we can use it. If it's good enough for the Dalai Lama and Jesus Christ, it's good enough for me.
And worthy food for thought when you’re on the road and the studio is a thousand miles away. It’s one of those circles of Life. Days unfold and then bingo - it will be back to the studio for me. And I'll have as much alone time as I can muster.
In the meantime, all I need to do is figure out how to teach twenty people to screen print on low tables where the wash-out is limited to three sinks and inadequate hot water.
No problem. We’re glad we came. And twenty-one heads are always better than one.