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Spare a Square?

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 we entertained ourselves with the creative possibilities found inside a recycled grocery bag. How did it feel to look beyond it’s mere storage capacity? Perhaps you made a belt or similar accessory for this week’s wardrobe to celebrate recycling and reuse. Maybe the non-diegetic  sounds you made mashing and twisting a few plastic bags together transported you to that long running television series in your head, starring you!

For this week’s creative nudge, you will need to reach a little. Not a lot. Based on research I’ve made up to support this statement, about 40% of all creative ideas begin in the bathroom. So you should have this week’s creative object close at hand: a roll of toilet paper. Constructed from soft fibers, meticulously woven to provide comfort and cleanliness, toilet paper's story extends beyond utility. Just knowing it is there can put our minds at ease. In 2020, a six pack of this stuff was more valuable than an artisanal IPA, and few things told a person you cared about them like leaving a roll or two on their front porch.

Consider some parallels between toilet paper and a recyclable grocery bag. Both raise questions about their composition, environmental impact, and the potential for repurposing. Just as before, we can find opportunities to transform and reimagine toilet paper for several minutes of creative contemplation.

Begin by picking up a toilet paper roll, or tear off a few squares, and experience its texture beneath your fingertips. Notice the subtle patterns, and the intricate details of its construction. Consider the materials that compose this essential product. When ready, find a place of peace and solitude. Remember not to force your creative output, then consider one or more of these activities:

  1. New Perspective: Take a length of toilet paper and look through it to soften your gaze. Or peer through the roll’s center and observe the telescoped view it provides. As the world transforms before you, ponder how such a shift in perspective can inspire new creative insights. Sketch what you see.
  2. Creative Descriptors: Reflect on the adjectives commonly used in toilet paper marketing—words like "gentle," "soft," and "luxurious." Use these adjectives to describe various moments of your life or products you buy.
  3. Reshape and Reform: Dissolve a small piece of toilet paper in water, allow the paper to disintegrate, observing the transformation. Once fully dissolved, gently sift the mixture onto a fine mesh screen and dry out to create a new textured material.
  4. TP Party with You: String the rolls as streamers, drawing on them or stamping designs. Toss that toilet paper into vibrant random patterns, reimagining its purpose in a playful and imaginative way.

As we navigate the tactile terrain of toilet paper, we unveil the layers of meaning and potential within everyday objects. By engaging with our senses, we not only connect with the physical attributes of the material but also unlock memories and creative pathways that broaden our perspectives. From functionality to playfulness, toilet paper invites us to discover the extraordinary within the ordinary.

Note: portions of this prompt created using the tool ChatGPT.