On Creative People

Sorry I haven’t written here in almost a year – I find it really hard to think of things to talk about. Even harder is finding things to talk about that I think anyone wants to read. But a recent discussion with hubby got me thinking about how important it is to support creativity in the people you love.

When I was very young, I was very creative – nothing’s changed much since then in that regard. But back then, my creativity wasn’t really encouraged or appreciated. Here follows some specific incidents I remember.

I’ve mentioned before how I wanted to be a writer since I could remember. I had a very active imagination, which my family didn’t recognize, understand, or appreciate. Naturally, it was also not encouraged. In fact, it was actively discouraged. You see, I liked to tell stories. Unfortunately, it was seen as lying. I’d spin a tale about something I’d seen or heard, and my mother would scold me. “Stop lying! All you ever do is lie!” I was probably about six or seven, and I didn’t know how to say I just liked to tell stories.

One time, I had to write a poem for English class. I think I was in 3rd grade. My teacher loved it, and actually entered it in a school-wide contest. It won second place, I think. Do you know what my family thought of it? Not much.

Then I wanted to make things. So I used cardboard and made little houses, or sometimes regular objects. One time, I made a wall telephone like the one we had downstairs, in the kitchen. And I’d pretend to call Grandma. Unfortunately, I was overheard and ridiculed.

Then I wanted to be a fashion designer. So I took up sewing, knitting, and crochet. But none of my hobbies were supported, so I had to make do with fabric, yarn, and needles “inherited” from dead relatives. One time, I knitted a two-piece swimsuit out of maroon wool. (Yes, really.) It was never intended to be worn in water – only for sunbathing. But that didn’t matter. Again, I was ridiculed.

Then I wanted to be a singer, so I’d lock myself in my brothers’ room (they were the only ones with a record player in a semi-private environment) and sing along to Bee Gees, Linda Ronstadt, Eagles, and other artists. Well, of course I was overheard, and again ridiculed. “She thinks she’s Linda Ronstadt,” one of my family members scoffed.

Then I wanted to learn guitar. A relative gave me her acoustic, and I started teaching myself. After a few months, I’d built up the callouses and learned most of the chords. Then one of my older brothers pitched a fit to my mother that he wanted the guitar for himself, since he had aspirations of being in a band. And although he had a job and could buy his own, he wanted that one. I’ll bet you know what my mother did. Yep, she took the guitar from me and gave it to him. Again, my creativity was invalidated. I cried for days afterward, not gonna lie.

Do you know what happened to me after all this? I stopped creating. I stopped dreaming of being a writer, or a fashion designer, or a singer, or a musician. All through my later teens and young adulthood, I hid away anything I wrote and never sang where anyone could hear me. The only thing I did that was out in the open was knitting, and I got very, very good at it.

Flash forward to my fifties, when I met my current husband. He is the first person in my life to completely embrace my creativity. He encourages it, embraces it, and understands it. He’s an enthusiastic cheerleader for anything I want to do, whether it was the jewelry I used to make (before my eyesight got too bad for it), books I write, stories I want to tell, blankets I knit, pictures I paint, or whatever. After I finish my current knitted blanket project, I want to take a break from knitting and do some clay sculpting. His response? “Go for it! Let me know what I can do to help!” What a world of difference in attitude from “Ha ha! You think you’re going to be Michelangelo or something?” Now, finally, I have found what I needed. (And I have so much gratitude and love for this man of mine.)

As a result, my creativity flows like a river, and for the first time in my life, I now feel the weight of wanting to do so much but worried I won’t have enough time to do it all before I die.

Part of me still holds a fair amount of resentment and anger for those wasted thirty years or so. When my creativity could have been encouraged instead of ridiculed. If I’d started writing sooner, who knows where I’d be now. Or if I’d been a singer… or a fashion designer… or any of the other things I’d wanted to be.

So I guess what I really want to say is this: if there is someone in your life who shows sparks of creativity, please encourage them in any way you can. We need more creative people in this world – we have plenty of stockbrokers, lawyers, CEOs and CFOs, and other business/professional types already. But we need more artists, writers, singers, sculptors, and modelers. We need creativity to flourish in our society. We need to feed our souls. And, when we are free to let our minds create, we come up with great ideas. Ideas that make life better for us and other living creatures on the planet.

So. What will you create today?