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Dear Gy, I honestly had something else planned for today’s note but your creativity over the last 2 weeks has blown me away. So, as with all best-laid plans, this too went awry. Before I knew it, I had changed what I wanted to write about. Today, let’s talk about being creative and learning to nurture it when you find something that you love doing.
Creativity is not an inborn trait, although many people will tell you quite the opposite. It’s not even restricted to the Arts or the humanities, another misunderstood concept. No, being creative is finding that spark within you that compels you to work on something long and hard because it gives you immense pleasure.
A couple of years ago, you took up paper quilling. Now I am terrible at anything craft or art related. It’s not something I am ashamed of, merely a factual statement. So if you were to ask me to make a rabbit out of origami or a quilled flower, I would laugh and walk away.
But not you. For some reason, art and craft fascinate you and for someone who is otherwise given to numerous flights of distraction, you change completely when it comes to doing things with your hands. Late last year, you took up knitting and it surprised me that within 2 months, you’d knitted an entire scarf! You tried to teach me, I remember, but none of it made sense! I didn’t know what to lift, loop or turn and twist. Yet you persevered and I admired that quality.
Then, last month, you announced that you wanted to join a terracotta workshop! I don’t know the first thing about making jewelry. I just wear them. You were gentle and firm when you proclaimed that you wanted to give this a go. A bit surprised at your insistence, I agreed.
What a delightful decision that was! Within a week you’d learnt how to mould terracotta clay into pendants, earrings, beads and chains. You worked through the day, rolling the clay, patting it into shape, taking a toothpick and etching the designs painstakingly onto the pieces. I watched in fascination as you then applied layers of rust, gold, silver and copper paint to the set pieces. I whooped in joy as the patterns came together to form a thing of beauty.
Through it all I saw something else. I saw your eyes shining in pride. I noticed that you blushed whenever a friend of mine sent an appreciative comment. A bit of amusement filled my heart as you seriously asserted, ‘Amma, so many people want me to make these for them. Please keep track of the orders, so I don’t forget.’
Beneath everything else though, I see a very important quality that only comes with innocence and childhood: humility. You liked the praise but didn’t work for it. You did what you did because you loved it.
And that, my dear, sweet, incredible child, is the hallmark of true creativity: To be completely involved in the process while being utterly detached from the outcome.
May this never change.
I want you to remember this beautiful quote from a favourite writer of mine, Elizabeth Gilbert. In her book, Big Magic, she says:
The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels — that’s creative living.
You, my darling, appear to have found those jewels. Nurture them, keep the flame burning and never let them die.
Lots of love,
*Note to the reader: The images in the picture below are all pieces crafted,strung together and painted by Gy herself.
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For the months of April and May, I will be writing short notes to my daughter on some concepts that I hold very dear.
I hope you enjoy these snippets as much as I love writing them.
Thank you for being part of my journey.
- Featured and images courtesy: Shutterstock