My partner, Jimmy, and I met some friends at Gaviota campground last weekend. We climbed rocks together, partook in frying veggies in the fire pit, and braved the colder-than-anticipated torturous winds in our tiny polyester tents. Without the comforts afforded by the four walls of home and a gas-lighting stove, I couldn’t help but picture my ancestors, how they managed to cook-out all of their meals and brave such terrifying winds. Plus, I was freezing! I imagined them much like Jimmy and I, huddled together just to keep warm!
This got me thinking about humanity and our instinct to Create. I mused over how our species’ Creative problem-solving skills might’ve been applied to hauling water or crushing berries. These Creative instincts were in place to keep us alive—we needed to employ our innate Creativity to design shelter and make food supplies. This type of innovation has played a gigantic role in propelling humankind from our wild cave days to an even wilder technological age. Now that our Creative endeavors expand to outer space and delve into artificial intelligence, I wonder if our inherent Creativity might still serve the same function, even though it has developed into something far beyond survival.
Human Creativity must be hard-wired into our DNA for a powerful purpose.
Today’s Creative inventions and discoveries are founded on the heels of the Creative insights that came before us. Experts call this “accretion.” For example, the World Wide Web would not have been conceived by Tim Berners-Lee were it not for the accumulation of ideas from his computer science predecessors. On a smaller scale and more personal realm, recipes can be passed down from generation to generation without repeating culinary history, or as the adage goes, “reinventing the wheel.” All of this Creativity is contingent on our species’ past, which impacts our present and paves the way for our future. Nothing is isolate.
It seems fitting that the function of Creative activity would be the same now as it was in prehistoric days. Creativity originally functioned to keep the human race alive, which, for all intents and purposes, had to be done collectively. It’s difficult to conceive how we used to literally need each other to survive. A human could not live outside the tribe. While shivering next to my partner, I felt awestruck over this seemingly lost truth. Community was a true necessity—not to offer us a sense of belonging, but to protect from predators and help withstand the ferociousness of weather.
Creativity that once manifested in the fulfillment of our physical needs has been replaced by Creativity exhibited in scientific advances or billion-dollar block busters. Ironically, now that most of our survival needs are met here in the global north, we appear to need one another less (or less urgently), that is, until one finds oneself without the conveniences of home, freezing one’s toes off in a $50 tent from Big 5.
Today, Creative acts endure for the same purpose—to keep us together, to continually connect us. The most fulfilling way we can relate to one another, in person or online, is through Creative acts. There exists a myriad of Creative expressions that support this idea, such as the togetherness experienced while dancing at Coachella, or the unity from singing in church or the shared laughter during a set at The Comedy Store.
Creativity was necessary in order for humankind to survive and remains necessary for us to thrive. What has always linked and united us will continue to draw us together—connecting us to those who came before us and even to those who are yet to be born, a profound reminder well-worth a sleepless night by the ocean.