When I was a youngster, I loved to create things. Especially the things I wouldn't necessarily be allowed to have or given or could afford with my own allowance.
I discovered the magic of the library and was guided by all the books that showed me how to get what I wanted through ingenuity and a few good instructions. I sifted through words and pictures, always led by my desire to make unobtainable things.
I bound my own poetry books, made instruments, costumes, hats, and cooked the food I most wanted to eat. I painted and drew with abandon. I wanted oil paints but made do with a box of Peacock watercolors from the drug store
I usually didn't have special tools or materials so I improvised a lot. The more constraints I had, the more interesting and magical it was to create.
Many projects didn't come off (Fire Extinguisher Robot I’m looking at you).
But at least as many did come off! And when they did, I found myself excited to give those things away as part of the process. I kept some things for myself, but usually after the act of creation was done, I was on to the next project.
I was on a mission to fill whatever makeshift canvas I could find with ideas that wouldn’t stop coming.
Then I took a college level painting class.
Confronted with ideas such as using the “correct” palette of colors, I started hesitating. The fill up the sky feeling I used to have started getting replace with how to do things “the right way”.
I read more instruction books. I got better paints and brushes. My materials would look at me from the surface of my desk and taunt me go ahead and try something.
Even with instruction and resources, I found it harder and harder to create with the same freedom and playfulness I once did.
Project after well-resourced project never quite got off the ground. I blamed taking classes and for years I thought I was being stifled by the need to do things “the right way”.
I tried to break out of my funk by doing small art on scrap paper. These minimal efforts also went nowhere.
I felt like my creative life was dead yet I felt there it was really wrong that something so alive could just wither away.
I was missing something essential and it had nothing to do with my paintbrushes, the lessons I did or didn’t take, or the opinion of some art instructor.
My real issue?
I had made my constraints (or lack of constraints) the focus of my art. I forgot how to inhabit a space larger than a broom closet full of broken junk. I forgot how to fill up the sky, constraints be damned!
As a little girl, I instinctively knew I could have what I wanted--constraints were just part of the process. As an adult, I had to learn how to do that again.
More importantly, I needed to learn how to dream hard again.
The dilemma I see others facing is that they spend the majority of their time focusing on their constraints and none of their time breathing life into their precious dreams.
More money, more time, or “better” circumstances alone never realized a dream--waiting for them is a dream killer.
What are you doing today to stay connected to your own living dream? Would you like some help?