It is easy in the monotony of everyday life to forget the passions that drive you to be who you are. Being lost is a chronic problem for me, and I imagine it is also for many others who must deny their creative selves to satisfy the many demands of our society. So much is asked of us financially, physically, mentally, to stay afloat in this world that the creative self is stifled in sacrifice to these means of survival. Unless your passion is in a field that incurs income, you are out of luck career-wise. So, now we enter into the whole “starving artists” cliché. Why are artists starving? Well, it is because their work is unappreciated and undervalued. How dare a person charge money for work they enjoy doing? Work is hard, work is pain, work is strife. Work is not supposed to bring joy, light or love to anyone. If you are not feeling the weight of your employer on your back, you are not really working. There is a growing resentment there of those who get to live their passion by those who are either too afraid, or too blinded by society to reach beyond merely what society deems appropriate for their career goals. You want an art degree? HA! Good luck finding a job. English major? What is the point? Apparently, our value is determined by how much we hate our jobs and ourselves, and of course, by how much earning potential is in our chosen path.
I spent a few weeks as a tutor, and in one of the papers I assessed was about student loans. The writer, a nursing student, posed a thesis having something to do with student loans, and one of the arguments posed was about why one would chose a worthless degree, such as English, or any Liberal Arts field, only to incur a mountain of debt with little pay off. This question has been posed, I’m sure, by no less that three quarters of parents as they pore over college applications with their children. So, as I quietly sat there reading her blatant insult to my chosen path. I am exactly that Liberal Arts student racking up the loans with no idea whether or not my academic choices will ever pay off. But, here she is coming to me for advice on how to better her paper, i.e. better her communication. As a nurse, her ability to communicate is profoundly important to the lives of her patients. She must know exactly how to formulate her words to convey the care of her patients not only to the patients themselves, but also to the doctors and nurses providing care when she is away. This web of communication is vitally important. She must also understand how to formulate and support an argument if she is to make a true difference in her field. Sure, she may expertly go through the technical motions, but to make a true difference she must also innovate, and uneducated innovation does not exist. So, who do those who question their abilities to communicate go for guidance? To those who are in tune with themselves: the artists, the writers, the teachers, the sages. Our ability to convey meaning with our words, visions, whathaveyou, is key to our creative survival, and our experience in wading through the bull shit to reveal our creative selves is valuable, though invisibly so, to those who are more technically minded. While the technical mind and the creative mind should be in alignment, they are most often at war with each other as they attempt to determine which is more important. What seems to be little understood is that technique is a result of creativity and exploration. A technique that is learned was once a mere spark in someone’s eye, and until it was honed out in years of practice did it become “technique.”
We creative types are the spark of innovation and understanding. Those of us with this gift are responsible for attempting to offer that spark to others. This is why I want to teach writing. I want to bridge the divide between those who feel that to deny their creative selves is the way of the world, and they must acquiesce to its harsh demands, or they are so stifled by their denial that they have no idea they are capable of sputtering out a simple sentence. We all have words, and while some have greater ability to wield them, it does not change the fact that we may all use our words to make an impact. When they come from the heart, every word matters and every word has power. Society would strip us of this power, and it tries by telling us we are worthless and stupid and to just be a drone, it’s easier. Don’t do it. Follow me.