Monday, October 12, 2009

Creative longing

Often when I tell people, "I write," or, "I tell stories," they reply, "Oh, I wish I could do that." I hear such longing in their voices. I recognize that longing because I've heard it in my own voice, when someone tells me they paint or dance or sing. We all long to be creative in ways we are not or long to be creative at all when we believe we are not.

That longing is a double edged sword.

On the one hand it can be disheartening and gives us permission to be lazy. There is a myth of inborn talent - great singers or writers or dancers are born, not made. This ignores all the hard work that went into honing the body or selecting just the right word; it's downright disrespectful of the determination and dedication it takes to be a successful artist. Sure, a measure of talent helps, but most people can learn to carry a tune or follow a sequence of steps or write a decent sentence. They may never be stellar at the art, but they can find joy in it if they so choose. There is joy in creation even if it will never lead to Carnegie Hall or a Pulitzer.

On the other hand, the longing may lead us to try harder or to try new things. If you long to do something, try it. If it's something you truly cannot achieve then make it possible for someone else. Or try something else. Longing to dance and too shy to try? Maybe yoga or rock climbing will work for you instead. Want to write but afraid you can't? Try it anyway, keep a journal or write someone a letter. The worst that happens is you decide to try something else.

Longing can lead you to new and wondrous lands or it can trap you. The choice is really yours.
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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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