Don’t just stand there, create something!

 

I spent yesterday afternoon playing chamber music with my friends. We were playing the Brahms Sextet Op. 36. It’s one of my favorite pieces of music. When I play it I feel like I could fly–I mean it, soar, weightless and joyful, and all I can think is, how did humans come up with this? Is this really the same species that invented the Real Housewives of New Jersey, fried Twinkies, and toddler beauty pageants?

Sometimes, people say to me, “I envy you, you’re creative,” like it’s a genetic trait.  As if, like detached earlobes and the ability to curl one’s tongue, creativity is inborn and predetermined.  There is no fixed pie of creativity. Like happiness, creativity is. You have to be open to it.

I do believe there are some people that are touched by Grace. They have an open channel to their creative selves and they can tap into it almost effortlessly. I don’t think, however, that means the rest of us are screwed. It just means we have to work a little harder. We have to make the time, open our hearts, and dampen our urge to evaluate.

We all have the capacity to create. The vast majority of us are not great at it. Even with practice, and training and work. But that’s not relevant. If I gave up everything I wasn’t good at, my house would look like Hoarders and I’d never leave the couch.

So do something new and different today. Go create something, whether it’s a painting or a poem or a doodle or few whistled notes.  Do it, and say to yourself “Hey, I made something!” Tell me what you did, and I’ll tell you how much you rock.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Dayna Bateman

 

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Virtual reality–why teenagers don’t need to daydream

My son says that he doesn’t daydream.  He’s a very poor liar (or a frighteningly good one, I suppose) so I believe him.

After hearing he was bored for the 1,000th time, I told him that he needed a hobby.  He told me he didn’t know any.  So I suggested some.  Stupid idea.  That is only an invitation to be shot down, because, of course, I know nothing.  That fact has been well established.  So I told him to try searching for one on Google.  That he understands.

I felt hopeful when I heard him typing away in the next room, but what he came to me with was a list of websites that listed playing Xbox as a hobby.  If the internet says it, it must be true.  I responded that somewhere the internet says that raising llamas is a great hobby, and a lucrative one to boot, but I wasn’t going to let him do that, either.

So I asked him what he daydreamed of, thinking that would lead to something he might like to learn, or try.  And that when he said that he doesn’t daydream.

I was sort of stunned by the revelation.  I spent half my time daydreaming at his age. Daydreaming got me through a lot of really boring classes, and menial jobs with low wages and lots of busy work.  It was a great way to try on other lives–a rock star, a figure skater, a treasure hunter.  I knew I’d never be any of those things, but they showed me what I was missing, what I needed to fit into my life.  He doesn’t have even one?

He likes playing Xbox, and in theory, I have no problem with that.  We limit the time he can play, and he’s a rule follower, so he sticks to the timeline.  It’s just that the worlds he plays in are so vivid.  If you want to shred like Eddie Van Halen, play Rockstar!  Win a gold medal skating!  Take over a small country!  No wonder he doesn’t daydream, he has an entire fantasy life at the end of the controller.

Is it the same?  Is it better?  Certainly it’s more concrete.  I fear, however, that it’s a false sense of accomplishment, that he never needs to yearn.  I was a big fat ball of yearning at his age.  I wanted to do so many things, the future seemed limitless.  I had to strive, work, sacrifice.  Why spend hours practicing in an empty room when you screaming amphitheaters are at available at a touch of a button.  Why learn through trial and error, when satisfaction is a click away.

I still yearn, and I still practice.  I spend hours, bow in hand, working to shape the friction of horsehair on string into a sigh, or a sob.  I still believe there is a chance for me as a writer, and who knows what else?

The video train has already left the station, and trying to hold it back is a futile gesture.  My only strategy at this point, is to keep it in balance, and let him see what following a dream looks like.  Wish me luck.