Engineering Creativity

DSCF3533Engineering has always made sense to me. The arena is governed by rules and boundaries rooted in hard data. Facts. An idea, after enough testing and iterating becomes true. Or untrue. But most certainly not both. That’s not to say engineering is straight forward or easy or lacks vision. Engineers are crafty devils. It’s in our nature to want to solve complex and obscure problems. But we still play by the rules. We live within the boundaries of our equations and formulas and known quantities.

I would argue, though, if we remove our preconceived notions and self imposed boundaries from the equation, we can create space for inspired beauty.

I had always just assumed I was not a creative ‘type’. I have the grace and poise of a hammer, so dancing is not my thing. My singing closely resembles the death knell of a Wookiee, so that’s out too.  I can draw, but only in right angles with a drafting square. So, by my own misguided interpretation of the rules I could only assume that I must not be an artist.

This self denial of creative nature reflected itself in all my endeavors. For years my skiing was mechanical. Precise, calculated, merely mimicking what had been done before. Observe. Emulate. Iterate. I skied like an engineer. Predictable, safe, and, above all else, BORING!

So a few years ago I made a commitment to myself. In the pursuit of fun I would wholeheartedly embrace failure.

Early on, crashing meant that the plan had not been executed properly and the preset parameters had been breached. Having to turn back from an ascent or descent was a mark of poor planning or foresight. But by abolishing the concept that failure is a BAD thing and embracing the possibility that failure can lead to an inspired vision, you can alter the boundaries of your situation. Shifting my perception of this allowed me to infuse my default mechanical style with something that has since turned into a powerful creative outlet for me; playfulness.

Conventional skiing wisdom would tell me that the best approach is to have properly balance weight distribution over the mid point of my foot, equal edge weight and a slight forward lean as I initiate my turn. Of course, always be looking ahead, ready to transition into your next perfectly arced turn. And the next. And the next.

But isn’t there just some inherent childlike giddiness that comes with trying to nose butter that roller?  Or, just for the hell of it, see how far back you can lean on your tails before falling over?  Even if you do end up flat on your ass with your goggles packed full of snow! And yes, I will be the first to admit that my A.D.H.D. style of skiing makes me look a little wild, slightly out of control, and possibly quite goofy. But that is what makes it mine. Every slash turn, tree tap, GS turn, and yard sale are uniquely mine. And when I stand at the base of my line and look back through each turn, slarve and pivot, I feel connected to something I created and enjoyed. And then it’s gone. Lost in the myriad of other tracks or new snow. Only to be recreated again but in a whole new way.

So while I may not sing or dance, I have found my own way to leave my mark. And I love it. And that’s all that really matters. “Do what you love; love what you do” -Somebody said sometime.  And I would challenge you to suspend your own self imposed boundaries for a short while and inject some playfulness into your world.


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