Every day, one of the things I am thankful for is the ability to create : to have been gifted such a vast canvas and be able to fill in what little details I have the time and skill to render. This weekend, my 1.5 year old daughter taught me something about creativity when she sat on the piano bench in our dining room. Until this moment, I had always observed from her perspective as she had played while sitting on my lap, but this time, I stood back and watched. She was absolutely enraptured with her creativity. What shocked me was the realization of her pleasure at her playing. There wasn’t frustration. There wasn’t self-reproach at her lack of skill, but only joy at exploring percussive action and sound. As I watched, I honestly felt silly for all those times I played when I got frustrated because I’m not good enough, all those times the sound in my head didn’t come out of my hands, or worse, those times that I compare myself to the likes of idols who dedicated their lives to an instrument. It’s too often lately I am competing against my imagination… here, in front of me, was a toddler at one with her imagination.
When is it that creativity becomes competitive? Art becomes an act not just of inspiration, but of adversity? Too often, I find myself looking at my creativity in terms of market potential (monetization) which is its own competition (capitalism). What Minnette showed me in a few minutes revealed that not only had I lost track of the meaning of inspiration, but that I was defeating my own creativity by pitting my imagination against itself. In the simplest, and purest form, the act of creation shows itself to be its own reward on the face and in the laughter of a 1.5 year-old.