Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What I Learned from the baby boy #1

As I'm writing this, the aroma from my coconut coffee is sending me into sensory heaven and my baby is unloading all of his toys from his toy box. There might come a time when I tell him not to do that, but what good are toys if you can't have fun with them. I love watching him sitting on his bedroom floor playing contently. So, who cares about a little mess.

If you think back to your favorite childhood memories, they probably consisted of making a mess of some sort, like covering yourself in mud to collect the worms from the creek or digging through boxes of hats, gloves, dresses, and jewelery to create the perfect dress-up outfit. I did both of those, I was very girlie and very much loved playing in the mud.

As adults we strive to successfully complete life in a way that leaves the smallest mess. Perhaps, we are missing something. Anyone who has watched a child play knows that the greatest fun requires the grandest mess. Life and creativity are kind of like that, I think.

Some shy away from the creative stirrings deep inside of them, because it's scary, it's unpredictable, and it probably messy. So many people tremble at the idea of any sort of disorder that they can not fathom intentionally causing it. We like everything orderly, matching, labeled, and dare I say, color-coded. (Oh, by we, I did not mean me. Too much order overwhelms me and causing the feeling of the life being sucked out of me, gasping for breath. You think I'm joking?)

Perhaps, it's a desire to have a sense of control, to avoid the chance of the unexpected from happening, it says, I can handle anything that comes my way, because I know where everything is, at all times. Yeah, good luck with that. The more I learn, the more I realize I have control of so little and truthfully, I find great amounts of boredom in the idea that I am so prepared for everything that there is no adventure or surprise left. But that's just me. We're all different, that's the beauty of it all. Some of my closest friends have to do lists for their to do lists and the hours of their days are filled with color-coded, cross referenced label upon label. And I love them, in spite of their illness, or even because of it.

I remember the first time I saw my wedding dress. I called it controlled chaos, some straight lines and some round, gathered bunches. I loved it. It was elegant, subtle, but unique. It was calling to me.

I think my whole life is controlled chaos. Believe it our not, I really like things clean in my house, like bathrooms, the kitchen {even though I hate cleaning it}, and every other week, I refold everything in the dressers to make room for the newly folded laundry.... but don't even think about evoking any sense of order on my art room and I will forever defend the idea that it's easier to find my clothes in piles on the floor, it just is.

When I'm painting, if I'm covered in paint, it's probably a success. When I'm working on a project, the supplies are scattered in utter delight, not disarray, delight. I like to think that a little mess allows the ideas and possibilities to breathe and fill the air, like the sweet scent of a candle. I often find the creative process to including messing something up to make something else. After I'm finished, I never look at the disaster I made thinking, oh great, now I have to clean that up. I look at my end result and say, that was fun, well worth the mess.

To be creative is to risk, to risk failure or success, to risk creating a disaster or a masterpiece. It's messy. It's unpredictable. It's just as much about the process as the completion. It takes courage to create, to try making something out of "nothing." Life is the same way. Without taking risks, you can avoid failure but you will also miss the chance of any successes. By creating nothing, there may be no disasters, but there will never be any masterpieces. The choice is ours. We've each been given the gift of life. It's ours, but we must open the box to discover the contents... and that could make a mess.

Watching him I learned that if he's going to have fun, he's going to have the most fun possible and make sure he empties every single toy from the box. I hope I have that same determination to make the most of what I've been given to live a life story that is worth telling, mess included.


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