I made a run to Western Kansas to visit my mother-in-law, Pat. During lunch at the senior center, I heard another resident telling a staff member about the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and the depression. That intrigued me and prompted wandering over to meet Harry, who started sharing his story.

Harry was a World War II veteran. He made it all the way to Berlin, though he didn't want to talk about it. One of the first things he shared was that he is an artist. He discussed the gift of being able to see something and draw it. I mentioned that in creativity presentations, I teach people to draw by using letters or numbers - things they know how to use – to uncover their creativity. I quickly demonstrated on a paper towel.

Harry then started drawing.

During our conversation, which lasted most of the afternoon after my mother-in-law joined us, Harry and I shared a pen and many sheets of a paper towel roll as drawing paper.

When I texted a picture of the drawings, a friend wondered how Harry’s drawings would become creativity lessons for a blog post. Honestly, as I sat with Harry, generating blog content wasn’t top of mind.

3 Creativity Lessons from an Afternoon at the Senior Center

There were, however, at least three creativity lessons from the afternoon at the senior center with Harry and Pat.


1. Creative talent isn't something that depletes.

Harry told us he draws and then throws the quick stuff he draws away. While his daughter gets after Harry for doing that, his point is that he can always draw more drawings. He did acknowledge that he takes more time and saves some more complete sketches.

2. There’s creativity in creating with whatever you have.

While Harry said he uses a tablet of paper to draw, it wasn’t around. We did have an ample paper towel supply, however, so we used those. I did leave my Precise V5 pen (affiliate link) for Harry because he liked drawing with it!


3. Forgetting can fuel creative opportunities.

While Harry was engaged mentally, you could sense some near-term memory loss. We’ve always talked, however, that forgetting can be integral to creativity. When you are too rooted in what HAS worked, it’s tougher to create new things. A little forgetting opens up new creative possibilities continually.

More Creativity Lessons Ahead?

It’s probably time to get back out there. This time, I’ll bring a long a new drawing pad and a few more pens so Harry is stocked with supplies to keep creating! – Mike Brown

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