Last Friday, I boarded an early morning flight to New Jersey in order to celebrate my 5th year reunion of graduating from college. My friends and former classmates were flying in from all over so that we could join 50,000 others in reliving our college days, complete with greasy hoagies, late night beer runs, and shaking our booties to 80s pop.
But that morning, while my airplane slowly rose above the clouds, I wasn’t thinking about the good times to come. I was thinking about how I would justify my less-than-typical career decisions. Translation: I was stressing about whether the scores of successful doctors, lawyers, and businessy folk with whom I used to attend college would look down on my decision to pursue a more creative career.
Oh dear. How very vain of me.
The key, unspoken assumption in my little airborne worry-fest was that I was the only one embracing the creative life. That the only way to live creatively is to produce art for a living.
I can see now what a silly notion that was. Because, on this planet at least, the creative life takes many forms. Sometimes it looks like a college grad who traded in her desk job to paint pet portraits. Other times it looks like:
The friend who is using his newly-minted skills has a lawyer to find creative ways to defend impoverished families who were being unfairly evicted from their homes.
The urban planner who, outside of his regular day job, has recently written, produced, and performed in a full musical.
The friends who use the best of their creative abilities each and every day to make math, and English, and social studies mean something real to their students.
The friend who started his own nonprofit to bring art and exploration to the children of Honduras.
The friend who uses patience and creative thinking to work collaboratively and produce change around an issue in a political climate which is opposed to her own beliefs.
The friend who pulled a u-turn in her life just a week before, when she realized that the safe, success-lined path laid out before her wasn’t going to make her happy after all.
When you’re a professional artist, it’s so seductively easy to look over your shoulder, see the fork in the road, and congratulate yourself for taking that right turn onto Creative Lane.
But there is no fork in the road. There is no one moment when you when you have to choose between a practical existence and a life lived creatively.
Instead, there are many tiny moments scattered throughout your days, when you’re faced with the choice between doing what’s easy, sensible, and been done before and what’s scarier, more challenging, but makes you come alive.
And I thank my lucky stars to be surrounded by a group of such stunning creatives, who always seem to choose the latter.Pin It