By Brenda Riojas, I Start Wondering Columnist
If from the start we can admit to ourselves that we don’t have all the answers, we can proceed with a creative spirit open to learning more, to discovering something new, and even to embracing failure.
Because we are always learning, we recognize that the pursuit of any art is a life-long endeavor. To that end, I think humility serves as an important ingredient to creativity because it:
- Provides us with a beginner’s mind;
- Helps us keep our egos in check; and
- Allows us to value others and consider different perspectives.
Ralph Waldo Emerson shared in an essay he wrote in 1841, “Our strength grows out of our weakness…. A great man is always willing to be little.” He adds, “Whilst he sits on the cushion of advantages, he goes to sleep.”
Keeping Creativity Awake
We can’t afford to let our creative spirits go to sleep. If we do, we jeopardize our forward motion. We give our curiosity no reason to ask questions, to seek new possibilities. After reaching the half-century mark, I am overwhelmed sometimes by how much I don’t know. But recognizing this inspires me to seek new learning opportunities. This fall I registered for an online writing workshop. Even though I write every day, I realize there is always something more to add to the knowledge base.
I especially value learning from friends and colleagues. In our communications office, for example, we have implemented a number of ideas offered by our youngest team members who were freshmen in college at the time. I also respect the feedback my writing friends provide when I ask them to review a piece I have written. Their comments always help me consider changes and additions that strengthen the story or poem.
Opening Up to Feedback
Sharing your work and inviting people to provide input requires some humility. It can feel like a risk as well. At times, I am guilty of self-sabotage. I hold back on trying something new because I am afraid of failing. Naturally, no one wants to fail or make mistakes, but when it happens, we can use it as a “lessons learned” as part of the learning process.
A poet I know and admire recently posted each draft of a poem he wrote leading up to the final version, giving us a glimpse of the process. He included each draft with his correction marks, deletions and additions, showing us perfection does not come all at one sitting. You have to work for it.
Another friend of mine who enjoys working with different art mediums is experimenting with concrete for some of her designs. I admire that she has posted some of her attempts on her Instagram account, Art+Object+Space, reminding us that a “maker’s life” is about “trial, epic fail and then success” as “ideas come to life.” As she shared what she calls “My new ugly concrete babies, coming out of the oven,” she quotes Goethe, who said, “Everything is hard before it is easy.”
There is a boldness in not knowing, in attempting something new. As creative spirits, we should embrace the energy that comes from this mystery and all the possibility that waits.