This is the final post in a 5-day series about constraints that serve as kindling for Creation. Yesterday I wrote Ignore or Fight Bad Advice & Other’s Expectations.
Highly Creative people constrain themselves to what they love. They pursue it with urgency because a lifetime pursuing a passion is not enough.
There isn’t time to dilute love with well-roundedness.
Our family gathers in the Music Room most evenings. Our old piano is here and our shelves are stuffed with great books. There are Kapla blocks to build with and a wooden castle with queens and kings to play with. Last night my three older children sat here, listening wide-eyed, as my husband read them Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
I walked in to gather my 2 yr. old and carry her off to bed, but caught my breath and stopped short when she turned to look at me and said, I writing. We both looked down at the red crayon lines across the open spread of a beloved storybook. She smiled at me.
My little girl knows I require a pen when I read. Reading for me is like playing ping-pong with the book’s author. He serves an idea, I respond. I underline sentences I love, or like. I circle paragraphs I’ll re-read someday. I write questions and insights as they hit me, in the margins. I don’t write only in books I’ve borrowed, antique editions or those so lame they say nothing in so many words.
Five hundred years ago, only men of high social status wrote in books. High society women sometimes ventured to depress a tiny fingernail mark on the margins of a passage worth revisiting. Today, nobody would snatch my book for my scribbles in it.
So I watched my child draw more lines, about three inches each from top to bottom on printed words she loves. When she put her crayon down I scooped her into my arms and made a mental note to move untouchable books to shelves she can’t reach. I carried her to bed grateful I had not spoiled her budding like of writing.
Betsy Lerner, literary agent and author of The Forest for the Trees, says,
When I meet a new writer, at some point I usually ask if he or she wrote as a child. I have found that the impulse to write, to record one’s private feelings, often appears at a very early age, with few exceptions most authors started writing in childhood.
My 2 yr. old’s interest in writing may be fleeting, but I hope she will find a love before she reaches puberty. When she does, I’ll encourage her and give her freedom to pursue it.
Creativity scholar, E. Paul Torrence, wrote a Manifesto for creative children and gives this advice,
Don’t be afraid to fall in love with something and pursue it with intensity.
Biologist E.O. Wilson found ants fascinating as a child and studied them the rest of his life. Primatologist Jane Goodall has also spent her days pursuing a childhood passion.
As a little child, Goodall collected eggs from the hen-house behind her grandmother’s place. She saw hens sitting on eggs and wondered, Where on the chicken was there an opening big enough for an egg to come out of? She asked her grandmother. But the question remained unanswered to her satisfaction. So, she hid.
One morning while the hens were pecking at grain in the yard, Goodall crouched between two hen-nests. She sprinkled hay over herself as camouflage and hid still for what seemed to her like forever. She watched her subjects come back into the hen-house. Goodall says,
Presently the hen half stood and I saw a round white object protruding from the feathers between her legs. Suddenly with a plop, the egg landed on the straw. With clucks of pleasure the hen shook her feathers, nudged the egg with her beak, and left.
In the hen-house, Jane Goodall found her love of observing animals in their natural habitat. She pursued this love to make grand discoveries about primate behavior and forever changed scientific inquiry within biology. Some of her insights challenged what it means to be human. Goodall even founded the Jane Goodall Institute to inspire new generations of naturalists in their own pursuits.
Childhood holds the dreams worth pursuing.
Late-blooming Creators dump well-roundedness and uncover dusty childhood dreams. Then with wisdom granted by experience, they pursue what they lived for as children.