|Lynda Barry, 100 DEMONS.|
What I heard him say was that we need to discover how to stop our self-limiting behavior, how to become courageously childlike, for some of us, a first. He said there was a time when we were not concerned about making a mistake, it hadn't occurred to us that we might get something wrong and suffer the humiliation of it. We were once beings who flung ourselves into whatever we were doing. He said we were once fearless.
I don't believe that I was ever fearless, not completely, though I have mental snapshots of moments. Lately, there seem to be a lot of moments. Fear is insidious, masquerading as caution, prudence, good sense. We don't know how frozen we are. I have carried a pack-load of fear that was not mine all my life and, to my unhappiness, passed it along to my son, not knowing how to do it differently. Last night was an opportunity to apologize.
We watched this Ken Robinson segment, then a more recent one, updates and variation on the theme of education. We then sat and talked at length about how we each might lose our fear and become airborne bodies launched from our own gigantic slingshots toward our dreams.
We talked of the feelings of outsiders, the ones who knew they didn't match the world around them, the ones who knew they would disappoint someone. How freeing it was to hear an intelligent, funny man speak about the isolation and sense of failure that come from not having uniqueness recognized or nurtured. The fact that I and my son had encouragement and opportunity for creativity was just not enough. It was creativity AND the expected academic skills, passion secondary to what, it was hoped, would be the path to grown up independence and success. There is a saying in 12-step programs, "Half measures availed us nothing." Hard to know if a thimbleful of creative encouragement is better than none at all.
But in my "never too late" world, we can backtrack and begin anew any day, any hour. In my world what I will call the universe elbows Instant Netflix out of the way and tells us the stories we need to hear. And, the wonder, we are able to recognize them, not confused that we are being led away from self-induced paralysis.
We are not idle. We both write, read, relentlessly track sources of inspiration, yet we move slowly, secretly wanting something fully realized and beyond criticism, success guaranteed, whatever that means. Now we have, dare I use the word, plans or at least hope, to find our fearless, improvisational younger selves, willing to leap and look foolish, step out and possibly stumble. Ken Robinson summoned the rescue party that is on its way back to find where we left those unrealized children we never quite got to be. We may now think twice before we criticize someone's work for a deus ex machina plot turn, a miraculous rescue, an impossible coincidence. Impossible things happen. Storytellers need to remember that.
Here is the video link. I hope it brings you illumination and the friendship of a resilient, remarkably brave child.
Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity | Video on TED.com