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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Creative Autobiography - Question #3

Thanks for your comments and emails on the post from April 4. I did #2 on my own, and don't feel like passing on my response to the worldwide web...

If you want to skip the intro to April 4's post, I quoted a book I'm reading on developing "creative habits." The author includes a questionnaire for readers to better understand their "creative DNA." In other words, the questions help you think about what makes you tick creatively... what story you're trying to tell, why you do the things you do, where you are strong and where you are weak.

"What's the best idea you've ever had?"

I am in a bit of a quandary. Decisions are not ideas, right? And the question is about ideas. But I think certain decisions are, at their hearts, “ideas.” Decisions lead to ideas, and ideas lead to decisions… They are separate, but often interwoven in the realities of life.

But I digress. So what is my “best” idea? I will pick my most creative one in recent years: choosing to ride my bike as an exercise in stewardship.

In May 03 our church did a Bible study on stewardship – of body, mind, earth, money, time. I was very moved by this study, and decided that if became a committed bicycle commuter, that I would cover 3 of these areas of spiritual discipline in better ways – I would get more regular exercise (body), I would pollute the environment far less (earth), and I would spend less on gas (money). Certainly, it was a decision (there I go again!), but it was an idea as well, because it was hazy and vague at first.

As I played out this idea though, more and more things – decisions, at times – emerged from this initial idea, one leading to another. Here’s a loose recollection of how things progressed:
  • I started with the goal of using my bike instead of my car once a day.
  • I sought to use my car only once a day.
  • I made it my goal to go without using my car a day at a time.
  • I started building my schedule around trying to consolidate (or eliminate) certain errands, take the bus, or buy less so I could carry my purchases on my bike.
  • I got far more intentional about recycling. Trash decreased.
  • My housemate bought a composter. Trash decreased even more.
  • I read about how much water is used to raise beef, and decided that was poor stewardship of resources and very oppressive to the poor (who lost land and water resources to livestock agriculture). So I stopped eating beef.
  • I started giving saved funds (from not buying gas for my car) to Lifewater, Christian ministry that brings clean drinking water to the poor.
  • I discovered the #1 health problem in the world is clean drinking water.
  • I started walking more for my errands – the grocery store, bus stops, etc. I needed to drive less and less.
  • I discovered CSA goodness last year. Enough said earlier in this blog about that.
  • I started hanging up my laundry on a clothesline, and washing my clothes in cold water.
  • A friend of mine told me she prays when she hangs up laundry, so I've been trying that ….
Clearly, this path of stewardship has created many new habits for me – in May it will be six years since that idea first came up.

This single choice to ride my bike has led me to so much reading, praying, listening, learning – about the poor, my faith, the way I see the rest of the world, the way I spend my money, the environment, social justice… All of it has been very creative and stretching for me. And I still have so far to go!

I am just now realizing as I think about all this that I ended up pursing the other two areas of spiritual discipline from that May 03 stewardship study as well. Riding my bike dramatically adjusted my use of time, and it affected my mind too. Fancy that. I've slowed down enough on my bike to see birds, talk to pedestrians on the corner, see the clouds, notice the wildflowers. That is a little harder to do on the freeway, right?

I feel like I have said enough, so I’ll spare you for now on how my thought life has been affected by this “best idea." But now that I have shared my experience, I’m curious to hear from you. Pause and ponder: What is the best idea you’ve ever had? What has it created?


  1. thank you kelly, wonderful. simply wonderful.

  2. My best idea? Hum...
    I know all the moms and dads who don't do this will cringe, but its one of the 'best ideas' I have had. Cloth Diapers. I used them about 75% of the time.
    I bought them for my first daughter, have used them for all four kids and have actually enjoyed washing them- its not much work (really) and has an impact on the landfill, time driving to buy diapers, and of course, saved $ from buying a truckload of disp. diapers.