A while ago, I stood on my front lawn with a friend as we watched our children play freeze tag. The children ran glowing, even glistening a little. They fell and laughed easily and often. I smiled and said,
They’re so fun. I just want to laugh with them.
My friend, usually an upbeat person, wasn’t smiling now. She’d been through a wicked divorce years ago and the one daughter from that broken marriage chose to live with the dad. I didn’t know the full story but when I glanced at her I thought she must be thinking of her missing girl. Keeping her eyes on the playing children, she said,
The most important thing is to keep children innocent.
For years I saw innocence, especially in children, more like ignorance. I believed my friend was wrong. Innocence may be bliss, I thought, but it is also a shallow state of living.
The ignorant have no tools for Creation. Highly Creative people are not ignorant.
But ignorance and innocence are not the same. Ignorance is lack of knowledge. Innocence is lack of guilt. You can lock up your children or put Kung-Fu Panda on the screen over and over and never read them a single classic to keep them ignorant. But keeping children innocent, is a bit more tricky. Childlike innocence is maintained by keeping mistakes in proper perspective.
Highly Creative people keep this childlike innocence of personal guilt over mistakes. For Creators spilled milk is just what you clean up to move on, not what you ruminate over. Mistakes are part of ordinary Creation and clean up times come often. Albert Einstein said,
Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
Creation in any form is about the new, so mistakes are inevitable. When childhood mistakes are routine and glossed over and left as the unfocused background to life, mistakes aren’t scary.
Guilt over mistakes paralyzes Creative thought. I now see what my friend did long ago, keeping children innocent is a gift to ensure their future Creativity.
*Life can get scary at times for grown-ups and for children, still guilt need not squash the future. To read more about Creativity and Fear see my post: Don’t Protect from Terror, Love Through It.