By Aditya Naik for KidSpirit's Creation and Destruction issue.
Can something be both creative and destructive?
You may never have thought about that question. Your spontaneous answer might be “of course not.” But I believe that anything can be both creative and destructive depending on the situation and how we look at it.
I am an Indian, and so I am blessed to have been born in a country of rich tradition and culture. We are taught about morals and values from childhood, both at school and at home. However, discussions around creation and destruction are often peripheral. Personally I was quite oblivious to the idea of creation and destruction until I was about seven years old. At that time we lived inland; nevertheless, I had an innate attraction to the sea.
When the opportunity to visit a beach finally came, I went to none other than Mumbai’s famous Juhu Beach with my parents. I felt euphoric and immediately got my hands dirty in building a sand mountain. I, of course, was in awe of sand mountains from the numerous cartoon films I had watched, glued to the screen. Many times in the cartoons the sand mountains built by the protagonists crumbled because of the waves, but I had never dwelled on that. At that moment my only purpose in life was to build the highest sand mountain ever!
I couldn’t believe my eyes when a sea wave came and in a fraction of a second swept away my mountain. I was so deeply disappointed! Why my mountain? I thought, "How can something or someone destroy a creation in which I had invested so much of my time and labour?” Tears rolled down my cheeks. Seeing me disturbed, my parents got visibly worried. On listening to my question, they consoled me that the sea had not destroyed my mountain with any malicious intentions, it was a play of creation and destruction by the sea. I peeped out from behind my mom and was surprised to see that the wave had actually leveled the sand so that it again looked uniform and beautiful. I asked my mom, “Can I make a mountain again?” She smiled and said, “As many times as you like! Try a new contour to your mountain this time.” This was an revelatory moment for me — anything can be both creative and destructive in life!
Another incident that has since made my conviction stronger is the experience of watching forest fires. In the months of summer, the temperature in my area of India is very high, near 45 degrees Celsius. In these days, the forests in the country often suffer through forest fires ignited by natural causes, such as high temperatures, friction from rolling stones, dryness or lightening. In such a condition, the dry grasses in the forest, as well as some vulnerable trees, are burnt. Some fires are so disastrous that they burn down whole forests, turning them completely into ash.
Burning the trees and grass seems an act of destruction. Deforestation is nothing but destruction of natural vegetation. Nobody ever thinks that its purpose is to maintain the forest. But in this case, and also in cases when farmers burn the vegetation in their fields, the fires are actually saving the forest from being completely destroyed by weeds and harmful infections. It’s like nature presents a clean state for the forest to re-write its story. So, destruction here is an act of creation.
Over the years, my belief in the conflation of these apparently contradictory ideas has only grown stronger. One humbling incident was a huge eye-opener for me. Once, while my family and I were traveling, there was a lot of traffic on the road. Everybody was moving at a snail’s pace and it was evident to everyone that the traffic bottleneck would take a while to clear. But there was one driver who was continuously blowing his horn. I thought, “Why is he honking even though he knows that there is traffic on the road?” Finally, after the road cleared a bit, my dad yielded to the car. While the car passed by I noticed that there was a patient in it. At first, I had judged the car’s driver as reckless and rude. He was speeding, too. His intentions seemed to be destructive. He was trying to disturb the peace and harmony of the surrounding area. But later I understood that this act was a noble deed. He was trying to save the patient in the vehicle.
Finally, take the example of nuclear power. On one hand, some want to use nuclear weapons for destruction. On the other hand, some countries use nuclear fuel to generate energy. The Indian prime minister assures 24/7 power to all Indians, even in remote places. Anything may be creative or destructive depending upon our intention.
We should try to be optimistic and find something creative in everything. Being creative helps us to work for the betterment of self and the world too. Thinking positively not only generates positivity around us, it also helps to reach our goals. I personally try to be mindful about this in most of the activities I do. Whenever I am scolded by anybody, I consider it a motivation to do better and not commit the mistake I have made again. Many of my friends consider reprimands an insult and feel regretful, but instead we should try to find the good and creative in everything. Like Billee Howard, the famous media professional says, “We can build a better world out of the ashes of creative destruction.”
When he wrote this piece, Aditya Naik was 15 years old and in the 10th grade. He enjoys writing and likes to read a lot. He is part of his school’s badminton team and enjoys playing with his friends.