We all have creative play in our bones. We may have forgotten it, but it really is there. It’s in our DNA. We call it a ‘job’ or ‘work’ when it really should be called play.
Strip it all away and it’s really very, very simple: Creativity is play, not work. But here’s the rub: Learning to allow yourself to play is hard work.
Don’t believe me?
One October morning, I asked a preschool group of twenty 4-and-5-year-olds “How many of you can sing?”. More than twenty hands went up. (Some of them enthusiastically raised both hands. That made me smile.)
The following morning I asked my daughter’s class of 8-year-olds the same question. Out of twenty-two children, only 14 raised their hands.That afternoon, I asked my son’s middle school band class the same question. Out of 36 students, one hand went up, and that one hand wasn’t even my son. The following weekend I asked a group of 70 young parents the very same question. You know what I got?
Crickets. I got the sad, empty sound of crickets. I got the sound that otherwise-confident adults make when they stare down at their shoes, hoping not to be noticed.
Dude. What happened to us? I know the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt, but… seriously?!? This ought to make us ask some serious questions.
Like, “What happens to our kids between 5 and 12 that they begin to lose their song?” Like, “What happens to us as adults that makes us feel that creativity and play are frivolous?” Like “Who told you that you can’t sing? Who told you that you can’t write? Who told you that you can’t build or paint or draw?”
Everyone can sing. (And if you can’t sing good, sing loud!) Everyone can write and draw and build and paint. That’s ridiculous.
I whole-heartedly believe it just may be your creativity that changes the world. It’s the Great Voice you have been given. And it’s yours for the taking. It’s yours for the playing. Unleashing your creativity isn’t hard work, it’s hard play.
I’ll admit it may be scary. It may seem frivolous at first. Trusting your creative gift, learning to play again, can be a bit like uncovering buried treasure. In fact, Elizabeth Gilbert says:
“…surely something wonderful is sheltered inside you. I say this with all confidence, because I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels—that’s creative living.”