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Crack You Up

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.

Last week, our creative journey was illuminated by the gentle flicker of candles, leading us through a sensory exploration using light, warmth, and a welcoming ambience. Did a dancing flame kindle a spark of inspiration within you? What sorts of memories did that scented ascent into the creative cloud show you? Maybe you now possess a hand-made (artisanal) wax sculpture suitable for that white elephant party. I bet plenty of us  now have six new words to describe our appreciation of a candle’s constant companionship. 

As we continue to seek out the extraordinary in the ordinary, this week's focus shifts to an intriguing aspect of our surroundings; these are things our mommas told us to avoid: cracks! These seemingly insignificant latticework deconstructing our sidewalks, showing the age of our coffee cups, and transforming our cityscapes, are existential maps of the lived experience of our things. 

They are the silent witnesses to the passage of time, to change, and to the resilience inherent in both nature and ourselves. They tell us where the stress lies, and shows us how we can spot it and use it in our creative lives. 

It's easy to see cracks and think they show a flaw in design or execution. In fact, cracks are inevitable when we try to build something permanent in an ever changing world. It’s a beautiful example of how things we create reflect not just our ideas, but an interaction with our environment. To my way of thinking, without it’s iconic crack, Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell loses a little luster.

Ready to take a few minutes and see the creative potential as things fall apart? Great! Jump in with one or more of these creative exercises designed with you in mind:

  1. Crack Hopscotch: Transform sidewalk cracks into a game. Create a hopscotch grid that incorporates the cracks, or imagine the cracks as obstacles to overcome like playing live action Pitfall! This playful activity isn't just about revisiting childhood games; it's about seeing the world from a different, more whimsical perspective.
  2. Fissure Poetry: Observe a crack closely – its shape, its texture, its path. Write a poem that parallels the crack's journey with experiences in your life. How do cracks reflect our own vulnerabilities and strengths? How do they symbolize the unexpected turns in our life's path?
  3. Tracing Time: Place a piece of paper over a crack and use a pencil to gently rub and trace its shape. Fall into its intricate details, capturing the beautiful story of these flaws.
  4. Crack Collage: Collect images or take photos of various cracks – in walls, pavements, pottery. Create a collage that juxtaposes these images, exploring the diverse textures and patterns. This activity encourages you to find art in decay and to appreciate the aesthetic value of deterioration and age.

Better yet, take a lesson from the Irish. “Looking for the craic” over there means you are looking for what’s fun, usually the kind of fun you find with friends after a long day of work.  What sorts of “good craic” might you find while exploring these more mundane cracks? 

Consider the good you will find when, instead of fixing or hiding cracks, you seek them out and celebrate their place in your world. Cracks reflect lived experiences that shape us, the challenges that test us. They are marks of resilience when things face the inevitable. May these several minutes of creative contemplation remind you of imperfection’s beauty and the inherent strength of the broken.

Note: This column written with the help of ChatGPT Plus and related Plugins.