creative by nature: the tree on a hill

There on a grassy hill stood a tree, old, vibrant, captivating in its beauty. People of all sorts traveled the country road that wrapped around the base of the hill.

A carpenter walked by, looked up and looked long at the oak. Sizing up how it had grown, he surmised that, properly cut and dried, the wood would surely be beautiful, stable and well-suited for the better part of a house full of furniture. From hands worthy of its beauty, that furniture could be passed down for generations.

An artist walked by, looked up and was captivated. She drank in its spell, wondered at its power and began to notice. It was so at home in that exact spot that it’s every contour seemed born of the hill itself. Its balanced organic asymmetry and the play of line, light, color and texture conspired to multiply the visceral impact of the whole. She resolved to paint it not to capture its power (that would irreverent and impossible) but to be its apprentice.

A dancer strolled by, looked up and stopped to witness the gestural power of so many limbs extended.  Wondering at the tree’s artful physiognomy, he knew in bone and sinew of the reach of life itself, inexorable for being firmly rooted. He remembered his was nature’s art.

A poet came to visit a kindred soul, blood and sap one in the desire to strive upward and root downward. They loved the free air and light, birds and squirrels and the deep recesses of the earth. They were teeming with life. They reluctantly shed their leaves in winter.

An ecologist, walking to clear his head, raised it and saw not a lone tree but an organism teaming with life–an ecosystem immersed in an ecosystem. He thought of the tree’s life cycle; it thrived on the decayed organic matter of plants before it and in death would return to do the same.

A couple in love walked by aware only of each other. Seeing the tree, they ran up the hill to celebrate their love. Sitting in its shade, they carved their undying love into its living flesh.


What we make of the world is who we are. Our be-ing is a making. Go to an art museum with a friend and you will recognize them in what they see in the art. Friends can change the way we see things, which changes us; Enemies, even more so if we risk empathy. The homes we make for ourselves, the relationships we care into being and the very lives we live are made by us out of what we’ve been given. If being creative means making something with what we’ve been given, then we are all creative by nature.

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