Are you creative?
If you would’ve asked me this question somewhere between the ages of 12 and 24, I would’ve answered with a quick and definitive no.
You see, in 6th grade I began my decade-long belief in my non-creativity.
I played sports and it only took one 30-minute sitcom or an insult from a classmate to know that jocks had a better chance of climbing Mt. Everest than they had of painting it.
My brother was the one gifted with the ability to play piano, beautifully set up like a living, breathing Thomas Kinkade painting in our living room; my greatest creative contribution to the family was to simply not tackle a friend through it. A contribution I excelled at with extreme moderation. I still swear it was Frank’s fault.
For most my adolescence I shoved all creatives pieces of me deep down into the basement, locked the door, and sold the key. It took me years of pain and struggle to learn that it is actually our creativity that has the power to transcend the muck and mire of our twenties into something more profound and beautiful.
All these thoughts have been prompted by the book I’ve been reading this week titled “Life After Art“ by Matt Appling — a book that has encouraged the creative core inside of me that has fought to emerge these last several years. Yes, Matt is my friend and a writer who I’ve always respected, so when he asked if I wanted a review copy of his book I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed.
Matt Appling’s witty, wise, hilarious, and yet profound prose about his experience as an elementary school art teacher and his own personal story of growing up with art, poured water into the dry parts inside of me that I’ve been scraping my bucket against for far too long.
As Matt describes our transition from the creative kid with imagination galore to the budding teenager with layer after layer of protective shells, it was as if he’d used my middle school journal for research. I’ve always known what has stopped me from being creative — insecurity and fear. And as I start to straddle 30 years old, those are two shells I still hammer away at even today.
I’m sick of “living life by ‘good enough’”, as Matt describes. I want to live my life as a Creative with a signature print that no one else can replicate. I want to create as the Un-Replicable Me.
And you know what, no matter who you are, in your own special way, you have your own signature print. As we grow up, we can’t limit our creativity, no we must fight to reclaim it. As Matt writes:
“The world needs you, and it needs your gifts. You must become generous with yourself again…What are we created to do? That is the final lesson of the art room.” – Matt Appling
Are you willing to give the world the gift that only you can offer?
Or are we going to live our life under the Christmas tree, that beautiful gift that stays there forever unwrapped?
A great first step to living a creative life should be snagging “Life After Art” for yourself. It might pour water on the dusty parts of your Un-Replicable You, as it did me.
I would love to hear from you in the comments below:
What’s a lie you’ve believed that has kept you from creating?
If you were going to create one thing in the next three months, what would it be?