Are people who live abroad more creative?
Noticing patterns in your life also makes you notice differences as well as similarities. In a life lived away from your native shores, the differences probably outweigh the things that are the same.
Living your life a mile from where you grew up probably doesn’t present the same opportunity to observe – you might notice how things have changed, but, like the face of a loved one, you probably won’t notice that change.
If things are different, mistakes are more common – and although making mistakes is not being creative, what is known is that if you aren’t prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with something original – if you’re not prepared to be wrong!
Like ex- Pats, children live in a world continually in a state of flux. Consequently, children often make mistakes: “Sorry, Caroline can’t resist a moustache!” “Jonathan can never remember to be quiet in company!” – that type of thing. The thing with children though is that if they don’t know, they will still have a go.
I heard of a child appearing in a Nativity play as one of the three wise men, and when it came to his turn to say what he had brought, he said, “Frank sent this!”
Picasso once said that all children are born artists, the difficulty lies in remaining one into adulthood. Like children, ex Pats find themselves in situations in which they are not always sure how to proceed. They go ahead anyway and rely on the largesse of locals to forgive them – they learn – continually – every day.
Creativity not only requires imagination and inspiration, which anyone who has taken the plunge to change their life has in spades, it also requires emotional depth. Expats have this depth, for they carry with them the memories of their lives in their home country, and the gruelling farewells as they left it behind. But of course, it isn’t left behind. The past is there, informing the hidden creativity which is bursting to find an outlet as new challenges are met.
Bestselling author and creative writing tutor.
Writer in Residence Yeovil, UK. www.margaret-graham.com
The creative world is full of people who lived in foreign climes – Earnest Hemingway spent much of his time out of the US, Paul Gaugin, Pablo Picasso, Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell and many more lived abroad for much of their lives.
Removed from their native communities, it may be that ex-pats either have more time to pursue their creative urges, or more opportunity, or both. Being creative requires confidence, and living with strangers can increase one’s confidence. Conversely, living close to lifelong peers sort of sets you out to conform.
I once worked in a small engineering company in which my liking poetry set me apart from the majority. It didn’t put me off reading poetry, it just put me off becoming like them!
If we can define being creative as finding other worlds in this one, then half of the job is already done for someone living away from home. ‘Nothing stays the same except change’ is one way of looking at life – here or at home these days, and so really, creativity should come equally easily to all of us – we just have to give ourselves a chance to become who we want to be.
Robert L. Fielding