One afternoon as I was working out the details of a small owl carving from a cedar log I noticed a young girl, maybe nine or ten years old, standing off to the side on the path that curves along the shoreline of the small lake near the community my wife and I presently live among just across the state line from Charlotte, North Carolina. I smiled at her and that was enough to break down her shyness, and get her to come to where I was working to satisfy her curiosity.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m carving an owl”
“Is that a tree?”
“It’s a piece of a cedar tree.”
“That looks hard.”
“It takes a lot of practice. I could teach you how to do it.”
“I could never do that.”
“Don’t you dare say that! You’re a kid. You have your whole life ahead of you. You can do just about anything you want to do. Can you draw?”
“Yeah. I can draw pretty good… and I can color good, too.”
“Then you can do this. All you have to do is stop telling yourself that you can ‘never’ do it, and start to do it, and practice… If you keep telling yourself you can “never” do it, then you will “never” try to do it, and you will “never” discover that you actually can do it, will you? You don’t start with carving an owl like this. That could be discouraging. What I am doing is pretty hard and takes a long time to learn. You need to start with something that won’t be too frustrating for you. Why not start with some clay? Clay lets you make mistakes and fix them. That’s how we learn. And make something that makes you happy.”
“I like to draw cats and rabbits.”
“Then make cats and rabbits… But you have to start.”
We have to start. I didn’t know I could carve until I was thirty years old. I grew up in a negative and dysfunctional household with a scientifically oriented dad who had no mental “box” for art. If something didn’t function or have a practical application, then he simply dismissed it as irrelevant. I showed aptitude and creativity at an early age, but was never encouraged to develop my gifts, and eventually they were deeply buried under distractions and anger, and almost forgotten.
It took an act of God to reawaken those gifts in me. That story is told elsewhere. And the journey my wife and I have been on discovering life has been over four decades long now. What began as a clumsy fascination with carving wild birds and woodworking has evolved into an exploration of the meaning of creativity itself and of the Creator out of whose heart meaningful creativity derives its definition.
Creativity and the creative spirit is what I would like this blog and its conversation to be about.
I don’t want to put too many limits on the conversation. There are about eight billion people in the world at the moment and each one of us is unique; each person sees the wonders of the cosmos through his or her very personal “lens” of mind and soul and spirit. I have written at length in another blog of my Christian convictions and the lens through which I am discovering the creation, and of why I believe that my lens is more refined and accurate than others. But I don’t really want to press that debate overmuch here. I am sure that it will come up, and I will be writing from that worldview, but I think that we can agree that it would be helpful to let the more volatile issues that surround the subject be deferred to that other forum as much as is possible.
I also desire that all of us who would like to fellowship in this particular space do so with passion, but with respect for each other and civility. The English language has some two million words in its vocabulary (four million plus if you count technical jargon). I personally rarely use “strong” language, and even less frequently “street” language. I am going to ask the same of those who want to share their thoughts here. There is no need to recourse to gutter vulgarity in intelligent communication … it is intellectual laziness and is unbecoming for educated people. Any overly inflammatory or trashy posts are not going to be accepted.
Here is a quote worth thinking about:
“If you aim at nothing you’re sure to hit it” (Rick Joyner…and I’m sure a whole bunch of other sayers of wise things.)