Create Like a Child

My budding artiste wrote (and recorded, thanks to my honey, the Producer) her first full song. I am truly amazed. Of course I always knew she was musical and yes, I take some credit for her genetic predisposition to being artistically inclined. But this music came from a place that I am unfamiliar with, or at least have not visited since my own childhood. And it couldn’t have happened at a more perfect time.

I have been feeling frustration with the non-progression of a couple of my creative endeavors. As is almost always the case, there never seems to be enough time or opportunity in between the “must-do’s” of my very full life. Unplanned distractions, akin to a musty blanket left too long in an undrained washing machine, burden me – leaving me feeling depleted, weighted down and disenchanted.

But thankfully this weekend creativity, inspiration and wisdom have shown up, just this time not through my voice, but through that of my eleven year old daughter.

I’ve been searching lately for access to whatever mystical wonderland or magic pill might boost my productivity, if not creativity. My desire to attain a higher form of artistry must be a spreading virus because a few of my girlfriends in my neighborhood have been feeling the same way. We even put together an Artist’s Way group to support each other in our artistic endeavors and have begun meeting weekly. Already I can feel the creative juices starting to flow more assuredly then they have in recent months. Being that we are a bunch of Katonah moms, we began our first session lamenting our assumption that the author of The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron, surely wrote her seminal work unencumbered by children.

We laugh, but it’s the truth. It’s ridiculously challenging to manage a career, our own individual endeavors and our families simultaneously! And yet, like the befuddled Ewan McGregor in the 2011 Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, we continue on – despite seemingly implausible conditions and against all odds – to swim upstream.

About the time I feel like passing out, giving up or postponing, again, whatever artistic project (“well-maybe-in-a-month-I’ll-get-back-to-and-finish-it”) I am working on, I find a spark. . . and that is where my daughter comes in.

She has no formal piano training (yet) or even voice training as I strongly resist being a stage mom or wielding my MFA in voice and pedagogy over her head as a gauntlet. The last thing I want to do is to create any form of pressure or competition in her early stages of artistic expression. I would rather she love to sing, write and act then do it because she thinks she “has to” to please me, or anyone else for that matter.

And that’s just it. My daughter creates because she can. More than that, it serves as an outlet for her tween angst and anxiety but inevitably, and most importantly, it just brings her joy.

As adults we have plenty of obstacles obstructing our path from living a fully co-created life of joy and creativity. It goes without saying that our lives are infinitely more challenging than those of our children. Yet it also can be said at the end of the day, that this is also our greatest excuse. Regardless of the “facts” that we wish to rely so heavily on, if being creative or finding moments of pure, unadulterated joy were that essential to our BE-ing (and I believe they are) we would not, or should not, let anything stop us. To create like a child is to do so fearlessly, judgment free, with reckless abandonment, impulsively, in the moment, effortlessly and unforced.

Our experiences are relevant. To my daughter, a new 6th grader, the homework level in middle school is staggering as compared to 5th grade. The pressure of her growing social world is daunting and overwhelming and don’t even get me started on the effect of budding hormones!

The fact is we all have the ability to judge our experiences and expressions by the circumstances that surround us or to transcend them – at least for brief moments in time. We are the co-creators of our reality but we barely give ourselves time to feel, think, dream and BE more than what our scenarios and schedules dictate.

My daughter wrote a beautiful song about bullying for the fall production of her Little Village Playhouse theatre company. She wrote it because it made sense to her and because it addressed her experience in a way that was helpful, uplifting and positive. She did what my dearest Beverly Hills Playhouse acting teacher, Gary Imhoff, told me years ago . . . “take your shit and turn it into gold.”

My little girl didn’t make excuses or apologies for why she wasn’t able to complete her song. Instead she gave herself permission to work on it when she could and ignored it when she couldn’t.

And in the end, she created something whole, perfect and powerful.

It is this quality of creating and truly living in the moment that I so greatly admire. It’s what we all used to do when we were little. That box of Crayola’s were the most important thing in the world when they enticed our little fingers, the glistening pristine pieces of paper or glowing oversized coloring book beckoning us like Achelous’ daughters from atop their cliff.

As children we would drop everything and BE in that moment. We were painters, sculptors, singers, dancers, comedians, magicians, ventriloquists . . . unapologetic artists.

Artistry is the antidote to excuses. Let yourself create like a child in whatever time, space and moments you can manage. Slowly but surely you will reignite the spark of that inner child. And who knows – she may just go and grab her long missing crayons.

Listen to Emma’s song: Used to be Friends (Producer & Guitarist – Andy Kadison)

I swear you were the light to my dark.
When you started to bully, you broke my heart.
I didn’t understand what I did to deserve this.
I was always here for you. I guess that wasn’t enough . . .

Do you remember we used to be friends?
You turned on me and that was the end.
I didn’t understand why that had to happen – to me . . .

“It’s no big deal.” Isn’t that what you said?
But are you the one feeling hurt in my head?
The answer is no and that’s not the way to go.
The answer is no and there’s nothing left to show.

But please remember when we used to be friends.
You turned on me and that was the end.
I didn’t understand why this had to happen . . . with us.

Who have you become?
What have you done?
Can you hear – me . . . at all?

Do you remember we used to be friends?
You turned on me and that was the end.
I didn’t understand why that had to happen – to me . . .
Why your “normal” just became mean . . . oh . . .

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