Grade me! another thought on creativity

If you have never met Lisa from the Simpsons, I’d like to introduce you to her. If you’ve met her, you already know and perhaps understand. Lisa is a know-it-all. In her elementary school, as far as we are aware, she is the smartest kid there. She uses her powers to prove others wrong and is a teacher’s pest or pet depending on your view. There is an episode where the teachers go on strike and Lisa is beside herself with grief and concern. How will she learn, what will she learn, who will grade her? She has a small emergency kit of school work in case of prolonged school closure, but the strike lasts longer than the work she’s prepared for herself. Lisa begins to go a little loo-loo trying not to lose the knowledge she has and gain what she can. Cue the following scene:

Lisa: [panting] Grade me…look at me…evaluate and rank me! Oh, I’m
good, good, good, and oh so smart! Grade me!
[Marge scribbles an A on a piece of paper]
[Lisa walks off, muttering crazily and sighing]

I share this episode because it speaks to me. I love to learn school, I was good at school when I felt like it. I still have a nearly unquenchable thirst to know things. I have no immediate plan for any of the information I soak up, but I need to know what I don’t know in case I need to know it. I enjoy Jeopardy but am not good at Trivial Pursuit-it’s the sports. I love tests, no, I don’t run around taking every test I can, but I don’t pass one up when it comes my way. Even the surveys I take are treated like a test and I analyze them as I complete them. I can always tell when the survey is looking for an answer I didn’t pick because my survey ends abruptly and for a moment, I am sad because I didn’t pass the test answer the questions correctly get to finish all the possible questions.

I have thought about completing TKGA Master Knitter program because I liked the idea of someone else looking at 4-6″ samples of my knitting and evaluating me. I wanted to hear someone in some other city tell me I can knit, no, I can knit well. Then when I complete all of the courses I become a Master Knitter with at least $300 less to my name, $300 less if I complete all three courses in a year or more if I don’t. But I will have a lovely certificate telling and everyone else that I can knit.

My high school record doesn’t necessarily reflect my need to show my knowledge because I deliberately sabotaged my gpa in a failed attempt to avoid speaking at graduation. I say failed because the person right behind me did more poorly on accident than I did on purpose. I had my revenge, I didn’t speak and angered several people in the process. I don’t regret it. My college gpa was slightly worse than high school because suddenly I wasn’t one of the smartest, I was at a school where 80% of the student body was in the top 10-20% of their graduating class, I was drowning in smart. I needed to work to make a place for myself, there was no more minimum effort and maximum payoff for me and I’m rarely in the mood to exert that much effort for a pretty paper.

What does any of this have to do with creativity? Not much and everything. For you it may not mean anything, but for me it’s everything. I have a huge desire to be correct, to be right, to be accurate, to be perfect. I don’t like to be wrong, does anyone? I once argued with a roommate over how much I paid for a bottle of shampoo, I had a coupon and the store paid me $0.10 to buy it because it was on sale and my coupon was for more off than it sold for before the days when computers knew it all and wouldn’t let me have it my way. I argued because I needed to be right and I had the receipt to prove it. I won’t even open my mouth to think about entering a debate unless I am 110% that I’m correct, I don’t like to be wrong, I don’t like to admit defeat. Here’s what this personality flaw trait has to do with creativity.

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” — Joseph Chilton Pierce (author)

Something to think about. I don’t know the man, I’ve never read anything his written other than this line. I think he is wise, at least in this matter.

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Here is more information on this Simpsons episode.

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