Thursday, April 07, 2011

creative space

A long time ago I used to fancy myself a creative person.  I played multiple musical instruments, sang in ensembles, took photographs, made jewelry, painted with water colors, and wrote short stories and poems.  I reflected on things in a creative way and made space for thinking about more than just the next item on my to-do list. 

As I have gotten older, the amount of creative space in my life has diminished to the point where it is nearly non-existent.  I think it had something to do with the highly analytical nature of my College education and subsequent professional experience.  Writing lost its joy in the midst of rhetorical criticism and persuasive campaigns writing.  Creativity in prose is sort of frowned upon in grant-writing, case studies and legal briefs.  Writing became less about expression and more about accomplishment.  When you work full time (and then some) and hold down several volunteer gigs, there is just not a lot of time left at the end of the day for painting or drawing or strolling about your neighborhood to find photography subjects.  However, when life is nothing but a never-ending list of things to complete, it becomes very boring indeed. 

In the month of April my friend Richard clued me in to something called the NaPoWriMo challenge (National Poetry Writing Month), in which you write a poem everyday for for a month.  (As a side note, Richard is a fantastic poet and brilliant attorney.  Traits that seem to be mutually exclusive in everyone else but Richard.)  Poetry is something that I have always been a bit self-conscious about, but the beauty of this challenge is that your poems can be terrible, and you never have to share them, but the important thing is that you write one everyday. 

My perfectionist tendencies can prevent me from ever starting a poem at all.  So the fantastic thing is that I need to write a poem every day, and there is freedom in that, because it does not matter if the poem is perfect, follows a specific form, or is even good. If I was demanding perfection from myself, I would never actually get around to writing anything.   Richard told me (in response to my hesitancy in poetry writing), "Perfection is the enemy of accomplishment and everything good and fun." So there.  It is better to try something and not have it be perfect, than never doing anything at all.  Sometimes I need to be reminded of that. 

So through mediocre poetry, I am slowly reconnecting with my creative self.  I am certainly not going to pick up the trombone or trumpet again any time soon, or maintain easels with works of water color paintings in progress in my dining room.  However, it certainly won't hurt me to write creatively every once in awhile or take time to take photos of the things around me I find beautiful, not just waiting until I head to Europe every few years.  It also probably wouldn't hurt me to play the piano again sometimes and continue to participate in choral ensembles. 

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