Lori, 1st Grade
This week covers the sixth and final creative commitment in the book Creative Is a Verb by Patti Digh. The sixth creative commitment is, Let Go: Ignore All the Critics. The sections within the chapter are, (1) Write like an orphan, (2) Embrace your clearness committee, (3) Build your own Fallingwater, (4) Circle the ring again, and (5) Don’t export your peaches.
Patti sums up the theme of the chapter in her first paragraph:
“One of the biggest blocks to creativity is this one: What will other people say about what I create? Will they love it? Will it be as good as the last one I did? Will it get good reviews? Will it get any reviews? Will someone buy, publish it, review it, recommend it, collect it?”
Patti talks about how when we are aware of an “audience,” it changes what we create. Throughout the chapter, she gives examples of how we can craft a life and spirit that gives our best to those that matter the most to us and our best, original self to our creative gifts.
I love this quote from the book, “At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking about us at all.–Jock Falkson” What freedom there is in this realization. When I first started this journey, I went through the book, The Artist’s Way. One of the “tools” that Julia Cameron recommends is morning pages; three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing, every morning. A memory that I wrote down that first week was this:
When I was in first grade, our art teacher would come to our classroom a couple times a week. One day, right before Parents’ Night in the fall, our art teacher came in with an awesome project. We were drawing “triangle witches.” The idea was to draw two triangles (points up) one on top of the other. You extend the line of the top triangle to make the witch’s hat, and draw a face, arms and legs on the bottom triangle to create the witch. I was blown away by this project. I loved the concept. We were given a sheet of manila paper, and I set to work on my witches. This was an “important” project because these drawings would hang in the hall on Parents’ Night. I finished my witches but wasn’t satisfied with the plain manila paper background. I had just drawn some seriously awesome witches who needed a more spectacular background. I decided on a purple sky. I knew it was risky because time was almost up, but I vigorously began coloring in the background. TIME IS UP! and I only had about a third of the background colored in. I knew I was in trouble. I got in line to hand in my work. When I gave it to my first grade teacher, she looked at me with disgust and told me that my picture was ugly and that I was stupid for doing that (referring to my spectacular purple sky background). Strange as it may sound, I hid this story all my life and up to a couple months ago, I could still cry and feel a desperate shame when I thought about it. I’m going to be 50 in December!
Fact is, my first grade teacher was probably just having a bad day, or maybe she really wasn’t suited to be a teacher but had limited career opportunities. Who knows. Isn’t it amazing that we can let incidents like this control us? That’s all done for me. I would like people to like whatever I do, but it doesn’t matter to me because their opinion and judgment has everything to do with them and barely nothing to do with me. Life is short. I’m doing what I like and giving my best to those that really matter to me.