While I was driving home from Isle of Palms, I put Bob in charge of playing podcasts. Like most things Bob, he had an opinion. He’s not one to listen to doom and gloom, and so I was prepared for an upbeat playlist. When I heard my favorite singer/songwriter, Sting, start to talk, well I just had to listen! It was the TED Radio Hour and the subject was “The Source of Creativity.” http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/351538855/the-source-of-creativity
If you live now, or have ever lived with a creative person, you know the drill. They are dreamers, they are never lonely, they find meaning in ordinary things. When the Rocker was little, his fingers were always moving, tapping out an inner beat. Once he held the guitar, it became a part of him and followed him everywhere. The music that was in his head finally had an outlet – it could flow.
Sting talked about taking risks, about not being afraid to fail, and how children are just naturally this way until growing up sucks that courage, the creative impulse, out of us. I remember seeing awards on a bulletin board in our elementary school, mostly for being “quiet,” mostly to girls, and I had a premonition. Would my son flourish here? He was always moving, he loved to make noise!
Early hours spent delivering milk with his father gave Sting the solitude to dream about a life outside of his working class English suburb. He spent decades making music, a most prolific artist, until he felt the music die within him. For two years he didn’t write another song. To get his creative drive back, he returned to his childhood, and wrote an opera. You have to listen to the podcast.
So we can all still tap into that reservoir of creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert likened it to a moving walkway in an airport – we trudge along pulling our baggage behind us, and every now and then a walkway appears and it becomes much easier to write. That analogy resonated with me. I always had a deadline, so I needed to sit myself down and sharpen my keyboard. But sometimes, time would stand still, and something else took over my fingers. As if the picture, the words were in my head and my ability to write them down was effortless…I didn’t worry about grammar, or spelling. My inner editor was turned off.
Which is interesting because when Dr Charles Limb, an otolaryngologist at Johns Hopkins who runs the Music Cognition Lab, studied the brains of jazz musicians in an MRI scanner – yes, while they played a keyboard – he found that the self-expressive, creative parts of the brain light up and are on fire only when the pre-frontal cortex, the self-monitoring, critical part of our brain shuts down. That ability to disconnect is what gave us Bach! So we all have to be willing to fail in order to create, which is exactly what Sting said…
When the Love Bug started to sing “Let it Go” at the beach, I immediately had to download the song so that I could learn the words (I know I’m a bit late on this one parents) and we could improvise a dance to the tune. Because there is nothing better than channeling your inner child to rev up the creative impulse. Nothing.
Here is our talented artist, finally allowed to give her baby brother a bottle, and thinking of her next project!