Like most children, my daughter seems to have been born to entertain. She narrates every encounter, creates her own songs, twirls and dances down the street, and lives to make her Mama and Papa laugh.
Anyone who has spent much time with children - or can recall their own childhood clearly - can relate to the seemingly endless creativity with which we are born. Need a guitar pick to perform a guitar concert for your cat? Repurpose a small wooden magnet. Need an extra bed for your dollhouse? Grab your mama's yoga block. Discover a lone key on the sidewalk? Use it to "unlock" your stroller wheels.
But somewhere along the line, our focus shifts from the beauty of creative expression to more immediate needs. We want to succeed in school, so we study. We want to excel in sports, so we practice. We want to find the perfect job, so we send out resumes and network. We want to get a promotion or a raise, so we work harder. We divorce ourselves from creativity because we fail to see its practical application.
And when creativity does find its way into our lives - whether singing in the shower or signing up for a photography class - we tend to keep it siloed away, separate from our day to day rhythms. We are out of practice and find the idea of creative expression a bit uncomfortable. We haven't picked up a paintbrush in years. We haven't touched a piano since grade school. We are fearful of putting our (self-determined) lack of talent on display.
I notice this in myself when my daughter invites me to join in her sidewalk serenades. Rather than mirroring her gusto, I find myself carefully scanning the crowd for familiar faces and stalling until I can navigate to a less well traveled street. We spend so much time thinking about how something might sound or look that we forget the sheer delight of making up a story, dancing around the room, or filling a page in a coloring book.
Fortunately, the joy is easy to recapture, and it isn't contingent upon skillful execution of any particular art form. Creativity isn't defined by our ability to transform a blank canvas into a lifelike representation. Consider the catharsis of slapping paint on a blank canvas Pollock-style. Pull your phone out of your pocket as you walk through the farmers market and capture a particularly beautiful display. Experiment with a new recipe - or close your cookbooks and embark on a spontaneous kitchen adventure.
For many of us, August provides a bit more spaciousness than our the rest of our jam-packed year. Can you invest a free afternoon or weekend this month reconnecting with your creative side? Can you let down your guard and your creativity shine?