I've heard some people lament that they don't have a creative bone in their body. It always tugs at my heart to hear it. I imagine they say this because they've had negative experiences in their past where they feel they failed or fell short in some creative task or endeavor. Maybe their creative work was not appreciated or, worse yet, criticized. Ouch! That can make you distrust your creative instincts.
I think that everyone has a creative spark within them. To be human means that you have a mind and a soul, out of which you can imagine anything.
As children, our little imaginations are firing all the time and creativity is boundless. When we are free to let the magic happen, not only are we enjoying the natural unfolding of the human experience through discovery, we are helping our brains develop higher order thinking skills we will need down the road.
The pure innocence of imaginative play and creativity should be the hallmark of childhood. If you think about it, if you can't be winsome and free-spirited when you're little, when can you be?
When my two boys were very little, I happened upon a book by a rather out-of-the-box thinker about how children learn named John Holt. He talked about the necessity of letting children play and use their imaginations freely. He used the phrase, "childhood is playhood." That really resonated with me as I considered how best to give my boys the widest space and time for their little imaginations to soar.
Reflecting upon my own childhood, I had the blessing of nearly unlimited free time and "playhood." There was no end to the fun I could conjure up by myself or with friends or siblings when the days seemed to last forever under the Wisconsin summer sky. Drawing from that deep, beautiful well of unstructured imagination and play is where I believe I honed my creative spirit and passion for making things.
Did you have the same wistful childhood? Think back to those days where life was slow and time didn't run you over like a runaway train. Capture, if you can, a moment or two where you built a town in your sandbox. Do you remember drawing a masterpiece on the sidewalk in colored chalk? Did you compose a "stew" in a pail with leaves and berries and water from the garden hose? Can you think of a song you sang your heart out to, or a poem you penned for your mom on Mother's Day?
You DO have a creative spark! I knew you did. We all do.
I know, I know. The world is different now and the pace of life is dizzying. The distractions provided by modern technology are relentless, squeezing the creative, imaginative energy right out of us. The responsibilities and burdens of life mount with each passing year. As our lives become more structured and scheduled, our imaginations are crowded out by more concrete thought processes and more stress is heaped upon our emotional systems. Life feels like a spinning hamster wheel.
Here's the great news! Our minds are glorious gifts. Our spirits are patient and longsuffering. Your inner creative spark is still in there somewhere.
Treat yourself to a trip down memory lane by digging out some old photos of yourself when you were little and see if your innocence comes flooding back. Remember the thrill of your childhood innocence and creative spark. Remember how good it felt. IF there are any negative memories of having your creativity squelched in any way, definitely leave those crumpled up in a dusty heap. Better yet, pitch them!
Somewhere deep inside of you is a little kid who gets excited at the thought of buying a set of paints, or dusting off that guitar, or whipping up that yummy dish you've had in your head for years.
Do it! Then, do it again with no agenda other than spending some precious moments in your day doing something that makes you smile. Remember how sweet it is to imagine and create.
You DO have a creative gift! Enjoy!