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A Fly Try

A prompt to encourage your practice of creativity this week from Riversider and local author Larry Burns.

Do you need a low stress way to include seven minutes of creative contemplation into your week? Consider this your helpful nudge towards a slightly more creative life. If it helps, come back every week for a quick hit of creative contemplation. Each week I’ll share a new nudge. It will include a Thing (T), a Place (P), and a Sense(S) for your focus, a TPS creative nudge.


Welcome back from last week’s weed scavenger hunt! Lots of rain this year means you had plenty of places to find weeds to inspire creative deeds. Did you craft a photo series of weeds thriving in unlikely places? Perhaps one meal included a taste test of a salad you gathered on a stroll around the block? No matter the result, I bet you learned a thing or two from plants that grow wherever they can, regardless of an urban plan.

This month, I’m working from a found-object art installation adjacent to a community garden…I’m literally surrounded by weeds. In fact, one of my last activities during the recent heat advisory was hand watering several weeds I’ve adopted into the exhibit. Weeds are just another found object I use to be a little more creative.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it; this week’s creative nudge is a real pest. Our creative thing to focus on this week is flies, but don’t buzz off just yet. These pesky insects might seem like unlikely muses, but they play crucial roles in our ecosystem, breaking down organic matter and supporting new life. Not to mention all the creative ways we devise to destroy them. Get outside and prepare to claim the title of “Lord of the Flies” by completing one or more of these creative activities:

  1. I heard a Fly buzz: Record fly sounds to create unique soundscapes or songs. Experiment with different audio editing tools to manipulate the sound, layering it to produce a rhythm or melody. For an added twist, feed the recording into a chatbot or AI composer and see what kind of music it generates.
  2. Molasses vs. Vinegar: Set up a simple experiment with small dishes of molasses and vinegar and observe which attracts more flies. Document your findings and consider writing an absurdly serious blog on your experiment.
  3. A World Without Flies: Paint or draw a picture or series about the consequences of their absence. How would ecosystems change? What new challenges would arise? This exercise encourages you to think deeply about the interconnectedness of life and the often-overlooked roles that even the smallest, peskiest creatures play.
  4. Pupae Pics: Photograph the life cycle of a fly over several days, capturing the stages from egg to larva to adult. Or, take pictures over time of something eaten or pollinated by flies. Create a visual diary or a time-lapse video that showcases this transformation.

Flies, despite their bad rap, are incredibly adaptive survivors. Flies are also essential decomposers, breaking down dead things into materials that can then foster new life once again. In the same way, we have to break down our old ideas in order to let new ones flourish. Maybe we’re not ready for a fly-human hybrid just yet, but we can still learn a thing or two from these potluck party crashers.

By taking a closer look at these annoying creatures, we can learn about persistence, adaptation, and the beauty of transformation. Embracing the creative potential in flies encourages us to find inspiration in the most unexpected places, transforming nuisances into muses and challenges into opportunities for growth.

Together, let’s continue to explore the buzzing adventures of our imaginative minds and the creative connections we build along the way. Here’s to the flies, helping us see the world as filled with nothing but potential.

This column written with the help of a customized GPT from OpenAI. If I can make one, so can you!

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