Have Crayon, Will Travel

Quick note before jumping into today’s article: Early registration (and $400 savings) for the September 2021 IAM courses is now open. This September we’ll be offering a choice of daytime or evening cohorts! While Summer is still a week from starting and September is two and a half months away, it’s going to go by quickly. More info and online registration is available here: IAM 2021. If you’ve got questions, drop me an email.

And now, on to this week’s article…

One of my favorite topics of conversation is creativity.

I’m pretty sure one of the reasons it’s a fave is that it has a way of making people slightly squirrely and uncomfortable, which appeals to my mischievous inner imp.

I’m also of the opinion that human beings – all human beings – are creative. It’s in our nature.

All human beings includes men, said he, with the snarky lift of an eyebrow.

So yeah, I’m including you. Especially you.

Here’s some context: In this year’s grad program that follows my IAM (Integrated Adult Man) course, we’ve just launched into a rather long arc centered on creativity and creative expression. (I won’t give away too many details, because most of the men in the program read my weekly missives. Far be it for me to spill the spoiler beans.) In our opening conversations there were several examples, even from those in the group who would identify themselves as creatives, of holding or viewing creativity in limiting ways.

In other words, even creatives find ways of boxing their creativity.

Which, ironically, requires a touch of creativity.

Crazy, ain’t it?

I could regale you with stories of men taking the long way around the creative block to argue, again rather ironically, that they were anything but creative…

In its simplest form, creation is bringing into being something, anything, that wasn’t there before. (Thanks for the reminder, Jim!)

That includes, by the way, excuses and rationales that attempt to explain away one’s own creativity. In that vein, I’d be willing to bet that if we were to give the 3-year-old version of you a crayon, a bright white, blank wall and a whole lot of permission, it wouldn’t take much time for fascination to forge a connection between said crayon and said wall.

Which leads me to question what happened to that 3-year-old. When did he step away from his mark-making devices – and why? When, and under who’s tutelage, did he drop anchor in the boneyard of a non-creative harbor?

Let’s be clear: Creative expression isn’t relegated to the realm of the Arts. Without it, we wouldn’t have automobiles, airplanes, chairs, the interwebs, lightbulbs, dark chocolate-covered sea-salt caramels, bug-zappers or much of anything else. In the absence of a broader embrace of the full range of creativity, problems would go without solutions and stories would die on the vine, left forever untold.

Where would the fun be?

Don’t know about you, but that’s not a world I’m all that interested in.

What I am interested in (so glad you asked!) is a world in which creative energies of all stripes are released, received, and celebrated for what they are. In that world, creativity lives at the level of birthright.

You exist, therefore you get to create.

You also get to be responsible for what you create – including clever (or otherwise) excuses designed to convince yourself or others that you’re just not creative.

But here’s the thing: coming up with arguments against your own creativity requires the use of creative energy. It’s a rather distorted use, of course, but it’s creative energy nonetheless.

If you’re going to be using that energy anyway, why not make the choice to channel it into something a tad more useful and a wee bit more life-affirming?

And I gotta tell you, making anything, however brilliant, messy or otherwise, is a whole lot more fun than making excuses.

You’ve been given a bright crayon, a blank wall, and a whole lot of permission…

Ready… Set… Go!