Humans are always creative, no matter what their circumstances. The nature of their creativity is shaped by their circumstances, and I’ve been wondering today if that shape ranges from playfulness at one end of an imaginary scale to resourcefulness at the other end. One isn’t better than the other—just different—and gives rise to different ideas and solutions.

When circumstances are hard, or even dangerous, creativity seems to manifest itself more as resourcefulness. When circumstances are easy… safe, creativity takes on more playfulness.

No doubt there are other influences, and other flavors of creativity, but today I am moved by both the innocent, rule-free, contextlessness of a child’s playful creativity and the seasoned, principled, context-rich resourcefulness of adulthood.

photo by Penina S Finger

Of course, children are also resourceful, while some of the most playful creatives I know are adults who have done the hard work of re-finding play.

What got me started was some journaling I was doing about my favorite projects, why they are my favorites, and why they also tend to give rise to some of my best work. I realized that when the conditions are right—of mutual respect, fair pay, high levels of trust—I as a creative have more room for curiosity.

In a way, you could say that

resourcefulness is the child of necessity,


playfulness is the child of curiosity.

If I felt 100% playful and 0% resourceful (imagining that scale I mentioned earlier), would my work be better? worse? What about yours?


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