After a talk I gave, a young lady from the audience approached me and told me how thankful she was to learn that we are in the same boat: she is a struggling creative with a lot of passion for singing and music. She is a nurse, but her heart sings more for her creative side. She reflected her own experience with mine – I was a medical technologist, but later I quit to pursue my love for teaching and writing. I told her that a lot of people like us have the same story. We have this creative side despite a background in hard core science. We yearn to pursue it but quite afraid to do so. Our loved ones do not understand the things we are going through because they only believe in socioeconomic definitions of success, and pursuing a creative endeavor is too risky for that. For them, the priority is to finish school, get a job, and earn more. Our creative side is only as good as an occasional hobby.
Another story. My friend introduced me her neighbor, a young high school graduate who loves to draw and paint. At the time, about 2 years ago, the girl was accepted in a university to pursue her dreams of becoming a visual artist. Her mother was quite worried of the expenses that might cost them. Although the girl wanted it, she had another thing in mind: to become an engineer. Her teachers told her that becoming an engineer is an ideal and sure way to get rich. They discouraged her to study arts because she was told that “there is no money in it.” After a hearty talk, I left them with a hope that the girl would follow her bliss. But a year later, I heard that she pursued engineering for the same reason she had always kept in mind.
I am saddened of how our cultural understanding of creativity, education and career has pathetically undermined our creative side because of our motivation to earn money than to hone our potentials. I understand that most parents want a better life for their children, and an option to decide for their future is always based on the fact of becoming a success in this world. I myself grew up with a deep passion for writing, but even my family had not noticed it, let alone encouraged me to pursue it. I do not blame anyone for this, but I am keen to point out the frame of reference most of the parents insist upon their children’s choices. Socioeconomic survival was then a foremost priority, and this became the basic reason why our parents invested on ideal education and pursued lucrative careers. But that has changed since. The young people of this generation has a different motivation. Creative expression has now become a priority.
…when we acknowledge, honor and live this side of our being human, we are opening up to our own wholeness.
In one of his remarkable talks, creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson shared his important points on the problem of our current education system. To summarize, he pointed out that this education system was created based on the demand of the growing industrialization rather than nurturing of children’s natural ability to learn. In effect, our students have been deprived of true creative learning. Schools teach them to find the right answer instead of multiple ideas. Whenever a student sees new ideas, or ask new questions, parents and teachers shun him or her away. Today, students who don’t do well in schools are treated as problematic children, while adults who think differently and deviate from the groupthink are rebels and delinquents.
It is frustrating for many people who have discovered that they can sing, play musical instruments, paint, write or dance but do not have the chance to cultivate their talents because of many reasons. They fear they might jeopardize their careers, reputations and comfort zones. A mother gave up piano and has run her business since to raise her family. An old friend loves architecture, but forgot it for physical therapy. A dentist still yearns to learn folk dancing. And a nurse wants to write but abandoned it. How often do these unheard stories remain unheard, all because we have illusory reasons of survival while eventually forsaking ourselves of allowing our hearts to become what we really dream of.
Many babies are being born and children being raised. We hope that in their growing years, we are ready enough to allow them to choose and live their lives not just through their creative side but through their creative whole. That we may give them the most opportunity to be and become more creative, for creativity is their inherent nature. We have forgotten our creative nature in our generation and we can rectify this by remembering it and empowering the coming generations.
Sometime, the question of how we can Love ourselves is too tough to answer, until we find some creative way to ask it. Alternative–and creative–questions could be, “Do I see my creative side? Am I creating through my creativity?” Our creative side may just appear as half of our story, but when we acknowledge, honor and live this side of our being human, we are opening up to our own wholeness. Creativity uncompromised by our petty excuses is the key to allowing Love unfold as our being. To be more creative, to heed and nurture our creative nature is a vow to Love oneself, nonetheless. In every moment we create, we become the fulness of who we are, the creative essence of Love.