Roger von Oech

Creative Think

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Valeria Maltoni

Every child, at the time of birth, has the same potential of Leonardo da Vinci. What is the most frequently question asked by children? It's "why".

Dad, why is the grass green? Why do the stars stay up in the sky? These are the same questions scientists ask themselves.

We stop looking because we think we know.

Stephen Denny

Maybe we should just call the color yellow, "banana" from now on. All those great metaphors from the westerns will suffer, of course. "You're nothing but a banana-bellied coward," etc, just doesn't sting much.

Curiousity and creativity often need a kick start, be it from a creative whack pack or from another blogger's post or comment. We're better art critics than artists, most of the time.

Carma Dutra

Why do they call it the blue ocean when it is really green?

Why do they call a sucker a lollipop?

Why, indeed.

As long as we are able to ask Why? we can rest assured that we still have a brain.


Why don't people realize how powerful they truly are?


Why don't people realize how powerful they truly are?
P.S. Sorry about the miss-formated link from the other comment.

David Anderson

Roger: to answer your question about why a detailed post gets little response, but something tossed out may get a lot... well you answered that yourself previously with Beautiful Naked Ladies. It is all in what people are looking-for or relating-to.... so IF YOU WANT VOLUMINOUS RESPONSE, YOU HAVE TO MARKET TO THE NEED OR PERCEIVED NEED SHARED BY LARGE NUMBERS OF "NEEDY" PEOPLE. An alternate explanation is: possibly, sometimes "what is needed" may flow through subconsciously into the tossed-out post... thus it is "on target" and gets response, because it "touches a nerve", being "just what the doctor ordered".

Valeria: what evidence do you have that every child has the same potential as Leonardo... that appears complete nonsense. There are indeed very special kids sometimes who are way, way above, for some reason that I don't think is understood. (although reincarnational believers will tell you why) I would only agree that every child probably has way more potential than is commonly utilized.... and that often such potential is shut-down by "society" rather than brought-out.

Peter: well... why don't YOU, yourself, realize how powerful YOU are? My own answer to your question is that IF we actually realized (made-real) who we really are, we wouldn't be able to play most of the human dramatic games. And so far most humans (including us) apparently prefer to play the games, rather than be what I would call "True Creators". If that were not true of you Peter, or me, we wouldn't be on this blog (which depends upon the starting assumption that we have to discover & practice creativity... whereas what I call a True Creator knows that he or she is already creating and has the actualized choice to create entirely differently).

Valeria Maltoni


"That appears complete nonsense" is in and of itself a statement that begs the question: What proof do *you* have that they don't? Remember I talked about potential.

Leonardo was a human being. All children at the time of birth have the same potential he had. I worked with anthropologists and neurological brain development staff for over 6 years to help brain-injured children. These are children that in some cases had to have half their brain removed. Yet, many of them, when given the opportunity (here's where environment meets genetics) scored much higher than their peers who were defined by society 'normal'. I have seen hundreds of children and worked nose to nose with them and their families.

What experience do you have to support your disbelief? I would not want to pile on research and statistics in this forum. I am fascinated by how much easier it remains to be against something than choose to be objectively "for" something.

And given the choice, I will always be on the side of optimism and impact, especially after touching the results with my own senses. My cousin would have been one of them...

Tom Haskins

This reminds me of how curious I've been about curiosity: Why ask why? Why does it make a difference to ask why? Why do so few people "ask why?" when "asking why?" would make a big difference? Take blogging and Buddhism for instance. When we are complete strangers to blogging, we wonder "what is blogging?" or "what is a blogger, blogroll, subscription, comment, category, archive and trackback?" When that emptiness of "don't know what" is filled, we wonder "how to create a blog, post to a blog, add a comment, subscribe to other blogs, and link to other blogs?" When that emptiness of "don't know how to" is filled, we begin to wonder "why?"

Buddhism sees us on meaningless ground (negative kenosis) until we ask "why?" We are prisoners of our conditioning and have no sense of creating our perceptions and attributions. When we begin to question "why?" we choose the meaning, labels and sense we make of whatever we are pondering. We are on solid ground. Back to blogging-- we wonder "why am I blogging?" "why do other people blog?" or "why do some blogs get more readership than others?" When our emptiness of "don't know why?" is filled, we wonder "how to make a difference?" "how to express our inner truth?" or " how to be here in a way that presents who we really are?" Then the conditioned world is a dream we have awakened from -- an illusion that changes easily. We create more than our perceptions, our perceptions create what comes to mind and circumstances. We return to emptiness (kenosis) and take no offense to occurrences we created and know ourselves to be responsible for bringing about. We maintain a "don't know" mind. Ah so. Maybe yes, maybe no.


Answer to why the moon appears larger

It has to do with perspective and subconsciously comparing it to the size of the trees/other objects in the foreground when it's on the horizon.

err..i googled and this says there are two competing theories, which maybe you knew and hence the post:

Roger von Oech

Peter: Thanks for the link. It awakened my Daylight Savings time Monday-morning brain.

Tom: The move to daylight savings time has not slowed you down at all! You're probably right: if I wanted traffic, I should have called this post: "The Naked Truth About Asking Why." Also, you're probably on to something with the subliminal "What is needed" side of a provocative post.

Valeria: Well stated. I think I see the seeds of a post (for you).

Tom: As always, thanks for filling in the metaphysical underpinning of the post. You've given us a lot to ponder.

Lisa Gates

Lovely readers,

This question WHY is really an invitation to wonder.

I'm thinking of the child who asks "why [fill in the blank]" and the parent or teacher who always gives the answer. The adult, rational answer, from their experience and perspective. Yes, I know there is a "right" answer, but this isn't where I'm going.

Imagine if education and parenting (and adult living, fahgadsakes) were inquiry based and grounded in wonder. In this light, WHY is not a question that needs to be answered to fill in the missing facts and "teach" the child well. The fundamental underpinning of this concept and practice is to reply to the child's question with:

I wonder?

That's it. Allow the child to seek, discover, invent. At 5, the information we give a child on why the moon is blue tonight is almost irrelevant from a developmental, rational thinking perspective. We can teach our children to parrot the answers, but if their learning is engaged through inquiry and wonder and self discovery, then as they grow into responsible adults they have an experience as resourceful, can-do, criticial thinkers, who engage with the world as participants.

In fact, in personal development paradigms like coaching and LGAT models, the most effective learning comes from self-directed inquiry.

Confession: my son was educated in a Waldorf School for the first 9 years of his young life. "I wonder" is a huge piece of the teaching model not only in early childhood, but in high school.

Thanks for the space to pontificate.

Robert Hruzek

Great post, Roger, you tossed it off in about, what, 30 seconds? :-) I've noticed exactly the same thing and I can't figure it out either.

But what I'm really wondering about today is... why do they call it "sham" poo? I want the REAL poo!

Roger von Oech

Jason: Thanks for the links. Actually, I've heard that there are quite a few plausible theories for the moon's appearance.

Lisa: "Thanks for the space to pontificate." You're welcome here anytime.

Robert: I spent a lot more than 30 seconds, but nothing like the time invested in "Tribute to Vowels."

David Anderson

point/counterpoint/point TO VALERIA...


the level at which one wonders what we truly may be?... perhaps, actually, "more than human" IF human is defined as a biologically physical organism, located on earth in time and space.

Could it be that what we are is Something (what name to call it?) that expresses into earth through a human body? And that Something actually is quite capable of forming and reforming the human body? (is quite capable of "miracles" and "spontaneous remissions" and "translocations"?)

And that Something operates, actually, with or without all of a brain? And that Somethings is capable of knowing all sorts of things never learned in normal ways? And that Something is capable of doing various other "impossible" or "supernatural" things?

actually this IS what I think...

so I agree with you... that ultimately each human does have such potentials.

But if this is so.... we are confronted with a very baffling question of WHY such overwhelming potential is shut down to play "normal" or even subnormal??????

Why does such A Vast Creative Something modulate often into very limited forms of expression? Why does it play stupid or damaged or disabled?

Of course religious-type explanations exist about karma and so on... and esoteric teaching explanations exist such as "the soul wants to experience various kinds of lives".

None of these explanations are satisfactory, to me... so I am still looking to understand.

David Anderson

Tom - do you remember that it was a Budweiser commercial probably nearly 20 years ago that made famous:

"why ask why?"

One time I got quite drunk (probably on Budweiser) out in our garage and painted up a dresser for my young son Shane, using that slogan and outlandish patterns of various paints. I think we still have the dresser around...

and when I think about this, it occurs to me that Shane who is now almost 30, rather adopted this slogan into his life. He is an EXPERIENTIAL, live life kind of person. He does think; he does observe; he does have amazingly deep understandings. Yet, in contrast to some of us, he is not addicted-to "why?"

Chris Cree

I can actually answer one of these questions. :)

Carma, if you ever get the opportunity to go out on a ship into the deep water I think you will be amazed at how unbelievably blue it is. The deep water is almost overwhelming and breathtaking in its blue-ness.

The green water you typically see from shore is really pretty much found in the shallows. Or sometimes in heavy weather when the sea is very stirred up.

I guess it is just hard to appreciate the true beauty of the sea in its entirety while standing on the shore.

Roger von Oech

Chris: Hope you're getting to see a lot of that blue sea. Happy sailing to you!

Mary Richmond

wow! why wonder so much about the why's and wherefores of wondering? who knows what we'll find and where? or how? why not? without the why there would be no because, no maybe, no pause in the endless mad monkey of our mind....

Tom Haskins

David: I do remember that Bud commercial, but I doubt it contributed to many living in the present moment at peace. I took it as a subliminal message for the viewers to stop thinking about how much they are drinking, spending on beer and devoting their creativity to numbness. Where you went with "why ask why?" -- to disregard conformity and invite spontaneity was a wonderful gift to give your son. In some sense -- you created the space for Shane to be deep without an addiction to "why?". Awesome!

Tom Haskins

In my world, mountain mind observes my monkey mind making itself empty by asking questions, being curious, wondering why. The mountain mind knows all the answers and gives them to monkey mind. Empty mountain mind has nothing to say about the fullness or futility of monkey mind. Monkey mind has lots to say about itself. Empty monkey mind is filled by the fullness of mountain mind and then monkey mind is empty again with more questions. Always changing, always the same.

In my understanding, there are two sides to every experience. On this side we can discern how stupid, damaged or disabled an experience A Vast Creative Something has modulated into -- and become alarmed at the extent, comparisons and effects of how much. On the other side of every experience, all that discernment is simply not real -- but really useful, essential and there for effect. A perfectly white plate cannot be seen in a perfectly white place, only against a darker, dirtier or imperfect background. It makes no difference if the background is very dark or slightly off color. There's no reason, motive or use in discerning how dark it is. It brings the perfect white plate into experience. Why take our eyes off the plate now that it can be seen. Why worry how the not-plate the not-plate appears to be? Simply un-eat that darn apple and return to the garden.

Tom monkeying around

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