RJsCorner is meant to be a very diverse place. I cover many topics because I am a guy with many labels. One label I haven’t shown you here is my chef side. I spent five years in college working in a dormitory cafeteria serving about 600 people three meals a day. I started that time washing pots and pans and ended up running the entire student waiter staff of about fifty people. I learned many things about cooking and such in addition to how to be an engineer during those years.Read more
The foundation of this Alternate Reflections post is a photo from my recent visit to the Vincennes Rendezvous. He was part of a drum and fiffe corp. Why I singled him out here is because the drum was almost as big as he was. But, when he struck it with fury even I could hear (or at least feel) it.
Here is to you my friend. I look forward to seeing you again if a few years. Maybe by then you will have grown to oversize the drum you proudly play.
This sounds like a pretty grandiose title, I hope the post lives up to it. 🙂 I’m going to clue you in on what I found the ultimate freedom to be. It took me almost seven decades to find it. At first, it seemed more like a prison than freedom but I have found that misconceived view to be the case in more circumstances than I care to remember.
The ultimate freedom was cloaked in darkness when I first came upon it. It just didn’t look like freedom at first glance. Ok, the wait is over I will now tell you what the ultimate freedom is. Ultimate freedom is when you no longer have to do something just to create money.
Now I guess I have to explain my personal circumstances in order to support my dark pre-story.
I left the corporate world at fifty-five. After I got my thirty years in and was eligible for a full pension, my corporate division was sold to a Chinese company. We were told that nothing would change, but of course, within six months massive layoffs started. Within a year 95% were gone, including me.
All my life I had lived pretty frugally so I had enough resources along with the fixed pension and future social security payments to be able to live without any additional income. But, as is often the case, I refused to understand what that freedom could give me. It would be several years later before I fully realized what was in front of me.
When I finally went into the full retirement mode six years after leaving the corporate world, the idea of having total control of my time absolutely scared me. The main reason for that is that I didn’t do the work required to really appreciate what I had. Instead, I languished around as pretty much a couch potato for a couple of years feeling sorry for myself and the self-imposed boredom that followed.
Finally, I got it through my head to actually use this ultimate freedom. I finally started doing some things that I had only dreamed about up to then. One was to be a frequent volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Another was to start a blog about my view of the world. I had always enjoyed writing and now I could do whatever I wanted with that skill. Other things would eventually fall in place, but it was not until a few months ago that I decided to try and take my ultimate freedom to a whole other level.
I actually spent the time thinking and dreaming of what I could now do that wasn’t really possible before. That brought up a lot of hidden, or maybe unrealized goals that need to be further pursued. Finally, when 2019 dawned I decided to bring up yet another blog, this one dedicated to creativity. I am now about forty-seven days into this year-long project of becoming a more creative person. If this sort of thing appeals to you, I would like to invite you to come along on my journey. I think we can both learn if we do this together. Click on the CrackingCreativity logo in the right column here to join the fun.
How about you, what is your definition of Ultimate Freedom?
This post is going to be about how robots have replaced humans in a significant segment of our industrial complex. I will say up front that I deem this as progress. Human dexterity is just not a precise thing. We are incapable of producing the accuracy of today’s workplace. We are imprecise creatures and in some way that makes us creative creatures and that is something that machines won’t soon replace.
When I bought my first new car in 1970 the saying “don’t buy a car made on a Friday or Monday” was something to take seriously. The reason for that is that the workers who made the cars were often thinking about what they were going to do that weekend or what they had done after it was over. Robots think of one thing and that is to put that screw, weld, or part within a 10,000th of an inch where it is supposed to be. They do the same thing to that accuracy over and over again without thinking of anything else.
As I said previously, human beings by our nature are meant to be creative creatures. We are meant to solve problems, create new ways of doing things, or just make life a little more pleasant for the rest of us. We were never meant to shut off our minds and do the same thing over and over again. Someday we will look back on things like the human assembly line and wonder how anyone could ever do such a boring thing!!
I am finally convinced that I am a pretty creative person as my mind constantly wanders into unimagined areas of thought. In my retirement years, I have done a pretty good job of cultivating my creative processes. But I am always looking for ways to unleash my creativity to new areas and levels. When I ran across this article from the New York Times it gave me a different way to think about creativity.
We all have fantasies or, if you prefer, ideas. I will give them a different word: “Seeds.” These seeds are the germ-line of books, short stories, songs, the faces in a painting. Sometimes, when the idea is for a gadget that might, say, keep that guy in the car next to you from texting and driving, it’s the seed of an app or business. If it’s a doodle made during a boring corporate meeting, it’s the seed of an art project; the mixture of the barbecue sauce with the onions and the lemon might be the seed of the next, great slow-cooking invention…
Another quick tale to make the point: A family friend once told me that, in college, he was curious to find out whether he was creative so he picked up an easel at the store. He painted for 10 minutes, put down the brush and declared himself not remotely creative. But he went on to make tens of millions of dollars as an entrepreneur. He had mistakenly conflated artistic creativity with any type of creativity. But not all creativity looks the same, and it doesn’t take the same name.
I have been retired from the corporate world for a while now and therefore have a lot of time to create “seeds” and indeed I have created many of them. It is not as if I didn’t do it before but then as the bible says the seeds mostly fell on rocky ground and quickly died. Being able to concentrate on something as long as you want is one of the premier joys of retirement.
These seeds when they come are now quickly written down and then planted in my brain to see if they sprout. Sometimes my desktop looks like an advertisement for post-it notepads. Sometimes my mind is so filled with seeds its hard to do everyday things. 🙂 One of those seeds that ended up being a five-year project as documented in my blog RedLetterLiving.net. That is where I studied how Christian organizations did or didn’t follow the words of Jesus.
Of course, most of the posts here on RJsCorner also started as seeds. Looking at the current standings, I have 3,240 published posts, 35 drafts/seeds in various forms of completion, and a dozen scheduled posts. That is a lot of creative seeds as far as I am concerned!
I have about 20,000 photos now that I use my creativity to take and enhance. Many of those now reside in my Flickr account and many are here on RJsCorner.
Not all creativity looks the same. What do you do with your creativity??
I have let it be known before that I am a mall walker. Every Friday I walk up to three miles at the local mall. It is good and safe exercise for this 70+-year-old deaf guy. 🙂 One of the things I do pretty regularly during these mall walks is to take unofficial surveys. Sometimes I count the number of women wearing heels higher than 1 inch (around 2%). This time I chose to count the number of kids younger than thirty who are walking the mall clinging their cell phones. I’m not talking about them having them in their pants, but actually never letting go of them. Many of those weren’t actually using or looking at their phones, they were just holding them. I was quite surprised by the results.
I counted about 45 people in this age category and 30 of them were holding their phones. Of the fifteen who weren’t, eleven were men an four were women carrying babies or packages.
I am a techie so of course I most often have my cell with me when I leave the house. I average about 25 text messages a month and zero calls so that makes me an extremely light user according to statistics:
According to a New York Times report, both teens and adults check their smartphones 150 times per day (or every six minutes), and send an average of 110 texts per day.
For many teenagers these days, texting is passé, so they have upgraded to platforms like Snapchat and Instagram—suggesting that these numbers may not represent actual usage.
Around 46 percent of smartphone users say that they “couldn’t live without” their phone, and one-in-three would rather give up sex than their cell phone…
- 92 percent of teens go online daily, and 24 percent say they are online “almost constantly.”
- 76 percent of teens use social media (81 percent of older teens, 68 percent of teens ages 13 and 14).
- 71 percent of teens use Facebook, 52 percent use Instagram, 41 percent use Snapchat, 33 percent use Twitter.
- 77 percent of parents say their teens get distracted by their devices and don’t pay attention when they’re together.
- 59 percent of parents say they feel their teen is addicted to their mobile device.
- 50 percent of teens say they feel addicted to their mobile device.
The crux to all of this at least to me is that most teenagers are never alone as they are constantly sending or receiving messages to and from others. Most sleep with their cellphone on their nightstands. I imagine some even hold on to them when they sleep.
Creativity almost always starts with the person alone with their thoughts. How can that happen now? Are we stifling creativity in this generation? I don’t want to sound like an old person who laments for the “good old days” but I think something has to change in the coming years.
The tinsmiths of our early years were certainly a creative bunch. They fabricated many of the utensils we needed to live everyday life. Here are some pictures of one such shop found in the Nauvoo Village in northern Illinois.
Sometimes creative things sneak up on you. That was the case when I came across this picture in an Des Moine museum a few ago. I don’t know who put this box of eggs together but they were genius.
Let’s face it, most people believe that old people just can’t be creative. Of course, the definition of old varies widely among those with that belief. Some think if you are past 30 you are drained of creativity. You can call this bias if you want since it is pretty much ingrained into our society. I think the average age of the employees of Silicon Valley tech companies is about 30.
But in reality, some people get more creative as they grow older. A 2016 Information Technology and Innovation Foundation study found that inventors peak in their late 40s and tend to be highly productive in the last half of their careers. I had a couple of mundane patents when I was working in the corporate world but for the most part, I never considered myself to be creative until I left that world in my early 50s.
It was not until I opened up my own custom cabinets shop that the creative bug bit me. I designed and built a wide line of custom made furniture. No two customers wanted exactly the same thing so my creative juices were constantly used during that six year period. Like most things in my life, after I get good at something I usually also get bored with it and am ready to move on to something else.
In the twelve years since shutting down that furniture making shop my creative energies have gone into my photography and writing. I have done a lot of traveling in my region of the country and beyond. For me personally my creativity has grown as I have aged. Part of that might be due to the stifling atmosphere of many large companies. I can still remember one of my corporate bosses saying to embrace risk but to never fail? If you never fail are you embracing risk? That logic escaped me then and still does.