For one year– from Spring2010 to Spring 2011, I turned my growing family into a laboratory. My purpose– to set each of us on a Creative path of our own. We began in the grand central space we callThe Music Room. 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. For one week I’m writing about what I’ve learned this year– about Creativity and what it takes to live it. My previous post: Creativity Can’t be Taught.
Friends or lovers can squash your Creative development, but you have to let them.
If you’re easy-going and curious you often go along with whatever someone else wants. Not because you’re spineless but because little setbacks to your own plans don’t bother you or following someone else’s whims is an adventure. My eight-year-old is like this. Today, for example, every seat at our round dining table was taken for lunch– my sister, my brother, their families, my parents, my kids. We ate my husband’s fabulous lasagna and talked about upcoming birthday parties. Four of my five children are Spring babies, so birthday talk is very now. But when my sister asked for exact dates, I unintentionally skipped my eight-year-old’s birthday. We talked about everyone else’s birthday, except his. This pass-over didn’t bother him a bit. He is an easy-going kid. For now this is a plus for his creative-development. He’s emotionally free to think up new Lego designs, dream up adventure stories or wonder how far stars go on in the universe. But someday, forces that vie for his attention will pull harder– girlfriends will want more attention, buddies will propose cooler plans. He’ll no longer be so free. If he stays so easy-going he’ll eventually find himself no where.
Creative development grows proportional to time and energy put in. If you give away all your time and energy– the only things really yours, your creativity gets squashed out of your life. With the easy-going this happens almost unperceived. Other creative-types suffer the same fate– but they see it happening at every step. If pleasing others makes you happy, you may disrespect your creative work and set it aside for the sake of another. When a lover complains you’re always working on your project, you’ll willingly drop it for love. Or when a friend dives into a passion (i.e., chess, knitting), you go along. You take time from things you love to do and do what she loves, to stay friends.
Pleasing others makes my eleven year old happy. She’s naturally tuned to the needs of people she loves. This morning, for example, she bought fresh Chamomile at the farmer’s market. She kept a sprig to make herself some tea this evening, tied a white ribbon around the rest and presented the small bunch to my mother. My mother once commented off-hand, how much she likes chamomile and my daughter remembered. She loves to make people happy and does this kind of stuff for fun. Someday, she’ll need to set boundaries for her giving and keep some time sacred for creative work. When you give all your time and energy away to please others, you eventually morph into someone else’s worldview. Your own worldview– the place where your creativity begins, fades to nothing.
The greatest gift I can give my children is to remind them– through the years, to always respect creative work and to keep it alive. The writer Charlotte Bronte said,
Imagination lifted me when I was sinking. I am thankful to God, who gave me this faculty; and it is for me a part of my religion to defend this gift and to profit by its possession.
I hope they’ll love deeply– as I have, knowing all along, time and energy is theres to keep or give away.