Creativity comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and shades. Give ten people the same tools and timeframe and they will come up with ten different creations. They may bounce ideas off of each other and be inspired by what each other invents. They may double down and focus on their own work, looking up to cheer you on and glean from your success. They may ask for help or offer assistance when you need some. They may even work with you and provide input when you need someone else to take a look. However it works, creativity is an amazing phenomenon.
Then there are the times when we are blocked and cannot produce, or when our original idea implodes before our eyes. Recovering from the dry days, the failures, the empty page and no ideas can be discouraging. It can bring tears or feelings of worthlessness and doubt. Creativity is not a competition. It is not about how much work you produce or if people like what you produce. Creativity is about letting your inner ideas out so the world can be impacted by what only you can create. It is about letting go of judgement – judging yourself as less than and the critical judgement of others. Creativity is about stepping away from the rules and forging new trails. It is about trying new things, getting inspired and allowing time to pass with no concern for the realities of life. It is about celebrating the trying.
But what if I try and I fail? What if you don’t try at all? What if you simply let the negative thoughts in your head rule your world? What if you succeed? What if you win? What if you find amazing things to do that you had never tried before? What if…two very dangerous words. Two words that can stop grown men dead in their tracks, or may find the cure for cancer. Two words that have prevented ideas from coming to life, or allowed something to be created from nothing. Two words that have squashed creativity and the invention of unimaginable things AND kept the inventive mind going until they find a solution. What if…
How will you apply those words today?
This is an excerpt from the St John’s Bible, the first completely hand lettered version of the Bible since the invention of the printing press. Our guest speaker this evening was one of the Scribes who worked on the seven volume set, Diane Van Arx. She was gracious and giving enough to share her triumphs and challenges in completing her work on this masterpiece. She spent five years working on the project and hand lettered hundreds of pages, created magnificent illuminations, and worked directly with artists from around the globe. She was both incredible and humble at the same time. A pillar of excellence in this community and yet someone who was gracious in sharing her knowledge and experience.
Being in a different place surrounded by others who love hand written letters has helped remind me why I love this artform. The creativity, the passion, the willingness to share and learn is astonishing. This environment reminds me that I want to know more, practice more, and work more to improve my skills and techniques. There are people here who have been practicing this craft for over forty years, and others who picked up a pen for the first time this year. Both are equally welcome and valuable to this community. We need the experienced to help train the next generation, and we need that next generation to carry the torch into the future. Neither can survive without the other.
The words in this piece – CHOOSE LIFE – remind me that more than one generation is necessary for life to proceed and grow. Skills can be learned and practiced, and they need to be nurtured and appreciated to survive. No one can make it alone. No one can sustain themselves without fellowship and guidance. We all need something to do, someone to love, and somewhere to belong. We all need others to help us improve our skills, like iron sharpens iron. Being around others who value what you value and are willing to share what they know only raises the bar for everyone.
So who is benefitting from your knowledge and expertise? How are you fostering growth in the next generation? Where are you investing your time and energy to ensure that what you love will continue long after you are gone? If you do not share what is inyour head and heart, how will it continue. Choose life. Choose to share your life with others to make their world better. Their iron needs your iron, and your iron needs their iron…together you will both be better.
I am spending the week at a conference, learning new skills and meeting lots of new people. As part of the conference there are a couple vendors who are selling their wares. This particular vendor sells books and magazines. I was glancing at the magazine table and picked up a copy to browse. To my surprise it was the issue where an article I wrote was being featured. I had forgotten about the article and took a double take when I saw my own art on the back cover. I was immediately humbled and glad that I had put in the work to solicit and write the article.
There is only so much time in a day, and we all have to choose how we are going to spend, invest, or waste our hours. There are things we want to accomplish and things we want to learn. There are things we want to see and places we want to enjoy. There are chores and tasks, cleaning and culling to be done. There are beautiful ideas we have that we want to create and creative ideas we want to implement. Unfortunately we cannot do it all, no one can. We have only so many hours to use and too many things to fill those hours. So we have to choose, and we need to choose wisely. Choosing means some things get done and others go undone. Some things we do well and others things we do simply to check the box.
Eventually we run into our own work and can see what others see from what we produce. We find an old file, review our procedures, or read something we wrote. That work can make us feel good about ourselves, or remind us how much of a hurry we were in to just get that task done. When we revisit the fruits of our labors we have the opportunity to have a different perspective. The work is no longer new, it might even be old. When we see it, are we proud or dismissive? Do we like what we see? Or do we think we could’ve done better?
Knowing you may run into your work sometime in the future, does that cause you to pause and think differently about what you are producing. Do you want to retrace your steps and start again? Would you do it differently knowing your future self will be held accountable for it? Just something to think about as you choose what you will produce today.