I realize I sound like a dull old coot when I say I don’t care for all the “me time” activity young people are having in today’s world. I know it. I worry about the death of creativity. When we’re born we have so much potential and the development of that potential depends on so many variables. Whether or not we use our potential talents and gifts, find likes and dislikes may depend on the amount of love we receive, the attention paid to us by our parents or grandparents as well as good, meaningful teachers. As each of us learned over the years, the negative, inferior and even hostile behavior of any of these individuals can damage our young, developing world.
I think technology is amazing and believe many of the children today are more advanced than we were because of it; however, it is not a substitute for love or the nourishment that grows out of that quality of interaction. Social skills have to be learned face to face. I confess there are few things more galling to me than to be attempting to visit with children, teens or adults who are constantly texting or playing computer games. Yes, I worry about the lessons of common decency, manners and the wealth of interaction that is lost in this scenario. Recent studies on sociability have proven our social skills and interaction with others is slipping.
Watching a DVD with children is a bit different because we can still interact; eat popcorn and remark about the story we are watching. Because of the state of my health, my “kidsitting” often takes the form of sharing a good film or two. I am aware, however, of the importance of the active state of mind versus the vegetative state and try to pry us all away from the overly large TV screen whenever possible. We’re surrounded by beauty, animals and the colors of nature. The real thing is always better than the technological version. I’m reminded of the Lorax and the fake trees. I have never seen an electronic device that can simulate the wind blowing off the river, raindrops falling on your cheeks or the image of an American bald eagle gliding and dipping his enormous wings into a crystal clear lake.
Many of these same rules of growth and conduct apply to us adults who are forced to rest more often than the majority of our fellowmen. When I first became ill and could not find a cause for my acute sitter pain, it was recommended to me by an orthopedic physician that I should go to bed for a month. I was a Director of Nursing at that time and it became clear, very soon, one cannot do that particular job from the supine position. I was driving everyone around me crazy with my discontentment and boredom as well as the “elephant in the room,” my fear.
In order to keep my tush on the bed and my marbles intact in my skull, I was constantly doing needlework. I had never worked at counted cross-stich and did much of that. I worked with needlepoint, and then began quilting. I knew myself well enough to know I had to do more than reading, although I enjoyed it and always have. I needed the reward of production, fulfillment and accomplishment. Somehow I had to pass the days and nights, and TV, as much as I enjoy movies, cannot be the end all of life, any more than watching a spectator sport can make you an athlete.
I knew the “valuable” me who still lived inside, somewhere. I was more than my disease, whatever it was. It took an additional thirteen years to receive a proper diagnosis but that’s a tale of my tail for another time. I kept up the search for direction, hidden talents and enjoyment in my life. I was only 40 years-old at that time and knew my life could not be over. I felt that way for the sake of my children and grandchildren but mostly for my husband and for me.
You know, in order to create, you don’t have to be good at what you’re doing. After I began writing I realized some of the things I wrote weren’t that great but other articles and poems were. I’ve tried many other creative activities and I stink at some of them but that doesn’t mean they weren’t fun to do. We need to create for our own enjoyment and fulfillment. Sometimes I recall Margaret Mitchell who wrote Gone with the Wind. She worked on her manuscript for years and at one time had a closet full of boxes overburdened and spilling out with page after page. She never gave up. She never rusted. Personally, I’m thankful she didn’t. That massive pile of papers has been entertaining generations and also won the Pulitzer Prize. She did, however, die at the age of 49 after being struck down by a speeding car. Thank God she lived while she was alive; really lived.
Many of us have been “struck down.” That doesn’t mean we’ve been struck out. We’re still in the game but our positions have changed. We may not have vim and vigor, but we still have minds…more or less, don’t we? We may not have the ability to enter the Olympics, but we can perform some simple daily tasks even if it does take us longer than usual. We can challenge these traitorous bodies with physical therapy or by simply walking up that extra set of stairs. We may not be physically beautiful, but who cares? I’ll settle for pleasant and presentable; never forgetting cleanliness. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so they say; therefore if this loss bothers you, I would suggest you hang out with friends with poor vision.
It is of no importance if you are creative often or seldom as long as you enjoy it. Beauty carries its own reward; as does silliness. I love to be surrounded by both. Joy, productivity and pride of creation are all part of the nourishing side of life. They allow us to stand out from others while sharing with others. Discovering who we are is all too rare in this age of compromise. Don’t settle for less because you and I have already had to accept much interference in our lives. Dig, delve and search for ways to make your life meaningful and beautiful. Seek to have fun in your life.
One of the activities my youngest grandchildren and I have been enjoying lately is writing. I suspect my grandson thinks it’s too silly, but his sister enjoys it as much as I do. She and I recently wrote a story by taking turns writing lines to the story. It is the ultimate silliness and that’s why I’m going to share it with you today. I’ll let you guess who wrote which lines, okay?
Once upon a time there was a duck named Mortimer.
He was blue and very shy.
Therefore he went to charm school in Paris.
He hated it there until he met a good friend, a buddy, who was a chef who liked to eat duck.
Then Mortimer changed the chef into a vegetarian.
They then lived happily ever after on kale, broccoli and carrots they took from melting snowmen.
I know…it’s silly, badly done yet fun. The joy was in the creating of it for both of us. Grandson only wanted to write sensible stories about Jedi Knights. His loss.
Creativity does something to you to make life glow a little more brightly and will bring your funny bone come to life. If it’s creating beauty, then the rust will surely never settle you into one unmovable position of unhappiness. The funny bone is one bone that will surely not hurt. That’s something, isn’t it? Just don’t ask me where it’s located, okay?