As a writer, a creator, an artistic fellow, I admire those creative and inventive things others do as I imagine most people do. A smile, a shake of the head, a chortle, a sigh. Could be in a book or a museum, a movie or some roadside attraction, anything that I stumble onto that makes me see something – no, someone – out there in the world trying to connect and idea with others.
Maybe it’s a sign of weakness, this idea of wishing I had created this or that, rather than using the energy for my own purposes, but the things that get me are the ones that have no creator readily attached to them. Sometimes those things are the ones I really wish I could figure out how to invent.
Like playing cards. Four suits, two colors, face cards representing royalty. I sometimes like to reimagine new suits, a new “standard” that would last hundreds of years, available in every stinking drugstore across the country, with no creator name attached to them. We see them all the time, buy them, use them for games, build houses out of them, use the in magic tricks. They are familiar and accepted and universal. Four strangers with no shared language can break out a deck of cards and have a pretty good time of it. That’s an amazing thing to me.
Then there’s chess. Another royal game with plenty of antecedents. A game with so many possibilities, so simple and yet so intricate, clean and geometric. I really don’t have the fine analytical mind for the game itself, so wishing I’d invented it sort of feels a little false. But what a thing, to come up with a board that can be found all over the world, to create a set of pieces that represent specific moves, a game that stands as a measure for intellect. That would have been cool to have invented.
Or the limerick. Not just any form or poetry, but one with so strong a pull it is instantly recognized both by its meter and its humor. You don’t see much serious limerickry going on, and for good reason” it’s unnatural! A serious limerick is like a knock-knock joke that ends with tears. No, how wonderful it would have been to have devised not only the phrasing but the content for the first limerick so that moving forward only humor would suit the form.
There’s this notion that the creative person is moved by this sense of creating something immortal, something that will outlast them, that will claim their moment in time like a flag planted on the moon. It’s true, there are some people out for the fame and recognition in their lifetimes, but I don’t think that’s the driving force of a true creative. These things I wish I’d invented don’t have names attached to their everyday use, and I wouldn’t want mine attached to them as well. I’d simply like to have had the satisfaction of creating them.
It’s the old “would you rather” question, I guess: notoriety or anonymity, fame or fortune.
How about you? What do you wish you’d invented, or created?