59. Acknowledge Your Creativity

Good morning and welcome to your fifty-ninth meditation. Many people believe that they are not creative. Maybe they think that they didn’t get into any creative pursuit early enough, or that they quit too early, and that it’s too late and their days are too filled up to start learning one now. Often they think that there is a portion of the population whose role in society is to be creative, and that they simply do not belong to this bracket. As though personality types were so clean-cut. And this misconception is fueled by an appellation like “creatives”, which simultaneously, and paradoxically, banalizes and accords an inaccessible mystique to those to whom it refers.

There are two main problems here. The first is the notion that there is an expiry date on creativity if it goes unused. So you quit piano lessons when you were young. Why would that have any bearing on your ability to be creative now? It is perfectly possible to pick up piano at any point in your life and use that as a medium for your creativity, and meanwhile it is equally possible to take piano lessons throughout childhood into adulthood without any real creative inspiration. Playing piano is not tantamount to creativity; it is merely a channel for it. And there are limitless channels like it, which brings us to the second problem. This is the idea that creative people are somehow separate from everyone else. That so-called normal people can’t access creativity because they don’t play an instrument or paint or dance. Remember that these very specific skills are merely the trappings of creativity. They are stereotypical incarnations of what it means to be creative. The truth is, we all use our creative faculties all the time. We engage in improvised conversation; we contrive questions and responses on the spot; we make decisions on the fly, and problem solve; we care for each other in creative ways that allow those whom we love to feel supported; we develop opinions and figure out ways to express them. We all do these things. Every one of them requires a high degree of creativity to do well. And being an artist does not automatically signify that one will be particularly adept at any of them. Although it may help. What will not help is to simply assume that you are not creative, and, by doing so, actively shut down certain pathways where your creativity might otherwise flow. So whoever you are, whatever you do, acknowledge your creativity. Foster it and encourage its growth. If that means picking up that instrument that you always wanted to learn, great. And if it means recognizing that you have a skill for making people feel comfortable, fantastic. Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.

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