Perhaps there is no better time than the present to explore our creative potential. During this current pandemic, creativity can minimize lethargy and helps us find sustaining experiences and innovation. The challenge at hand reveals creativity to be an attribute some feel in plentiful amounts while others feel depleted.

How can we express our creative spirit? One way to do this is by building close connections with a person from another culture, through friendship or romance. Numerous studies support this approach. One study followed 2,000 foreign nationals who worked in the United States for seven years on J-1 visas and then returned to their home country.1 Those professionals who kept in regular contact with their American friends after returning to their home country tended to be more innovative and entrepreneurial. The study found it was the depth of the relationships that provided this innovation. Connections cannot be superficial but must be at a deep level of cultural interaction for transformation to take place. 

A musical collective called Silk Road Ensemble demonstrates a beautiful example. Created in 1998 by the famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma, this group consists of a diverse community of 59 musicians from across Asia’s Silk Road region combined with Western musicians. The best way to get a feel for the palpable inspiration and deep connection this music ensemble creates is to view the 2016 documentary “The Music of Strangers.” These musical virtuosos were strangers from varying countries and traditions. After traveling the world together and melding various instruments of the world in sync, a deep bond and combustible creativity ensued.

Creativity comes down to connecting dots. When we enter a close relationship with someone from a different culture, we have opportunities to collect more dots to the ones we already possess. Not only do we collect more dots, but we also find ways to connect the dots. This experience of learning deeply about others opens our life box. 

My own experience reflects lessons from dating a Persian gentleman who I can now thank for increasing my creativity quotient. I have always considered creativity to be a strong trait. However, by understanding the customs and etiquette of my significant other’s culture, I now see that the experience of opening my worldview helps foster my creativity. 

There is a phenomenon in ecology called the edge effect. This principle defines a point in which two ecosystems meet, such as the forest and the savannah. There is potential through colonization for new life forms to be created when biospheres meet. Each one of us can take this trepidatious and opportunity-filled time in our lives to step over the edge and connect deeply with someone different from us to experience a more inspired world.

Jennifer Di Francesco is a wellness explorer and desert adventurist and can be reached at [email protected].


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