Day 44 of 45 Days of Courage

It takes courage to show your creativity.

I have read that creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes and art is knowing which ones to keep.

I have always loved being creative. At certain points in my life, however, some of the creative light was dimmed in my life. I have two very distinct memories of times I brought creativity and was met with an art critic.

The first was in an art camp I attended. I was pretty young, maybe 8 or 9. We were asked to paint our vision of the future. At that age I was very optimistic and truly believed that in the future, our planet would be cleaner and nature would flourish. I painted a picture of a lake at sunset, with trees silhouetted in the background…I thought it was beautiful.

My fellow campers did not agree. They mocked me and laughed, pointing at their own paintings of destroyed cities, alien invasions and a world that was dirty and dying.

Worst of all, my teacher (who I later learned was an actual teacher when he taught me in grade 7 and 8) joined in the mocking and told me I was naive to think the future could look like that.

A year or two later I was in Mr Kressler’s class. The assignment was similar to the art assignment – to write about how we could make the world a better place in the future. It had to be written as a fictional story. Kids wrote about people saving the planet from alien invasions. They wrote about cleaning the world and saving us from the effects of acid rain. They wrote about ending hunger in Ethiopia. These were kids who were going to do something big!

As I listened to each of my classmates read their stories, I was in awe of them. And became more and more afraid to share my story. Mine was not one of great heroics. In my story, a little girl is walking to the park to play with her friends. She comes across a boy who is cold and sitting on the street corner, begging for money. Though she is late to the park, the girl stops, sits with the boy, and shares a sandwich with him. (In my story I distinctly remember that she had a sandwich but it was never mentioned until she magically pulled it out of her pocket.) They talk for a while and then she invited him to play with her and her friends. And he does. And they become friends. Ta-Fa! The world is better because they connected.

I remember it came to be my turn and I ran out of the classroom. How could sharing a sandwich and playing with a kid begging on a corner (without asking his parent who didn’t exist in my story) change the world? I knew I was going to be laughed at and mocked, just like in the art class. If I had known I would have to read out loud, I would have written something safer, more like what my friends had written.

Mr Kressler came into the hallway and I was sobbing. I told him I was sorry for not doing the story the way he had asked. He asked me if he could read it. I let him. He read it, squatted down to my level and told me it was beautiful and forward thinking. I had no idea what that meant but it sounded a lot better than “naive”.

Mr Kressler read my story to the class while I waited in the hall. I don’t know what he said to them but when I came in, no one laughed. No one mocked. I got some thumbs up and some “good story” comments. I don’t know if they were sincere, but it didn’t matter. Mr Kressler gave me a gift. He allowed me to keep being creative. He gave me courage.

So here we are, on the second last day of this 45 day journey together. This road has been challenging for me. Not only because I feel I have laid my soul out for all to see, but also because I have overcome my fear of sharing my creativity. It’s interesting that I have had many positive comments on my writing and the stories I share. And the few negative comments tend to stick with me and make me question the way I share my soul with the world.

So to the few who mock, thank you for helping me find the courage to keep sharing. Thank you for reminding me that this is creativity, not art.

But art may be coming. I had a reader share this blog with a publisher in Nova Scotia who contacted me about some possibilities for turning it into a book – perhaps a daily guided journal or a collection of short daily reflections…or both. While I am not sure I will follow up with that particular publishing house, I do think I will spend some time considering how 45 Days of Courage can live on.

Thank you to all of you who support me every day by reading and sharing these posts with others. Thank you for finding courage with me every day. My view of the future hasn’t changed much from when I was a kid. I still believe we can have a better world and that if we have the courage to just talk to one another (maybe carry a sandwich in your pocket) we can change everything!

Where will you find the courage to show your creativity today? And when you do, can you find your own Mr. Kressler? Can you have the courage to be someone’s cheerleader today? Our world needs your creativity.

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