“Every person is creative. Creativity is the natural order of life …. You are creative. Your child is creative. Encouraging that in both of you opens doors to happiness, connection, and yes, increased performance and ability in other areas.”
For several decades, inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way, I have started my days by taking a notebook and pen in hand and writing three “morning pages.” I recount a dream, set the day’s agenda, consider a challenge, start a shopping list. Maybe, if I am wide wake, I imagine a few lines of poetry.
Nothing on these pages is worth sharing; yet, I believe capturing my thoughts on paper as soon as I rise invites more creativity into my daily routine.
When I started thinking about making films that would inspire viewers to connect academic studies to careers in the “real” world, I turned to another Julia Cameron book for inspiration. In The Artist’s Way for Parents: Raising Creative Children, she writes, “Every person is creative. Creativity is the natural order of life …. You are creative. Your child is creative. Encouraging that in both of you opens doors to happiness, connection, and yes, increased performance and ability in other areas.”
I do find pleasure in creating. Whether it is writing scripts for the Working Class documentary series, taking photographs of beautiful scenery, making a quilt from recycled materials, or cooking with fresh herbs from my garden, I love playing with ideas and producing an original something that I can share with others.
Whenever anyone tells me that he or she is not creative, I feel sad because I know it is not true. I know creativity lies within each of us. We only need to explore our curiosities and we will discover countless ways to express our individuality and creativity. It is fun for everyone.
Do you remember Harold and his crayon that created an entire world? If not, take time to read Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. The first film in our series, Working Class: Dream & Do, features a reading of this book, which simply reveals the power of a person’s imagination in developing his/her place in the world.
The story is featured in Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book: Life Lessons from Notable People from All Walks of Life, edited by Anita Silvey (2009). Two famous authors, Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are) and Chris Van Allsburg (Jumanji and The Polar Express), selected the 1955 classic as a book that offered important life lessons.
Van Allsburg said, “As a child my favorite book was Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. The book is based on a perfect visual concept: A little boy builds a world out of purple lines, and then that world becomes real … I believe that the empowerment of Harold appealed to me as a reader – I loved the idea that I could be in control and create my own world.”
“I have remembered the book since childhood for two reasons,” he continued. “First, for the theme: The book explores the power of imagination, the ability to create with imagination. Second, the book contains a fairly elusive, mysterious idea but presents it so succinctly through these simple drawings that this idea registers clearly.”
Sendak, in a 2005 interview with Jennifer Ludden for NPR’s All Things Considered, said, “Harold is just immense fun; that’s all, just fun … there are no lessons in ‘Harold.’ You have fun, you do what you like and no one’s going to punish you. You’re just a kid.”
The second part of the NPR interview reveals that early mentoring from Harold’s creator Crockett Johnson and his wife Ruth Krauss (another legendary creator of children’s books and author of The Carrot Seed) helped to guide Sendak’s career.
Each of us needs guidance and encouragement to follow our personal dreams and achieve our professional goals. Every person and every profession benefits from an infusion of creativity. As we consider careers and guide young people in the direction of their dreams, let us remember that following our curiosity can lead us to richer, more satisfying lives.
In the words of Julia Cameron:
“Allowing our children to blossom creatively does not mean that they will become professional artists, but it does mean that they are more likely to enter a profession where they are more fully themselves.”