Was it seen as important? Or an impossibility, to be shoved aside and boxed away, in favor of more “practical” things?
There’s a legend in my family that when my parents met, my father wanted to be an actor, but that he closed the door on that dream when my mom said she wouldn’t marry someone with the kind of unstable income that an acting career was sure to bring.
How serious my dad was about pursuing the acting bug that bit him in college I’ll never know. Maybe it was a passing phase. Maybe he would have been happier doing community theater and making his income elsewhere anyway. I know he loved the high-tech career he went on to build, and I certainly had a more stable home life with an engineer/systems analyst father than I imagine I would have had with an actor father.
What do we model for our children when we “reneg on our gifts,” as my friend B puts it? Her own mother only pursued her inborn talent for art once the kids were all grown and gone, and I could name several other friends off the top of my head whose parents closed the door on their creative dreams in order to support their families.
What message does that kind of self-denial give to a child with a burning hunger to create?
Understand that I’m not casting blame or judgement on any of the adults who made decisions they saw as necessary to support their families. We’re dealt the hand we’re dealt, and we can each only do what we think is right at any given moment.
I am, however, asking us — now — to think about it.
Many of us have the luxury to create lives our parents and grandparents couldn’t have dreamed of. My immigrant great-grandparents escaped pogroms, sailed in steerage across the Atlantic and struggled to survive in a new world so that their children would have a better life. Generations later, I’m grateful for the opportunities in my world that have allowed me to focus on building a business that sustains me financially, nourishes me creatively, and also changes the world.
Time, place and good fortune have made it a helluva lot easier for me to follow my Bliss than it was for my antecedents.
Although “the economy” is in the dumps and this is perhaps the first generation that hasn’t almost automatically surpassed their parents’ standard of living, we still have opportunities that simply didn’t exist for my ancestors in the shtetl.
For most of us, the path to following your Bliss has never been more accessible.
For many people nowadays, at least those with the resources to read a post like this, what’s really getting in the way is not drought, or famine, or living in a war zone, it’s mindset.
The idea that we don’t deserve to pursue our creative passions. Or that doing so is frivolous and unimportant.
If that wasn’t what we were told in words, it’s often what we were told in actions.
Now let me ask you: if the adults in your life boxed up their dreams, imagine, how might your life might be different now if you’d witnessed them making time and space to follow their Bliss instead?
It must be said that a parent who follows her or his Bliss to the exclusion of effectively caring for their family is no better a model than one who closes the door on that Bliss entirely. But there has to be a balance, don’t you think?
This is on my mind today because of an email I received from a friend.
A little background:
A couple of weeks ago, in this post, I introduced my friend and business partner, Kelly Hevel, and announced that we’ll be co-teaching a week-long creativity retreat in Istanbul (yes, as in Turkey!) in the fall, and a 12-week online course coming up later this month, Playing Around Online (starting
February 29! UPDATE: we’ll be holding a free seminar, Living the Creative Life: Fact vs. Fiction, on March 7, and the first official class meeting will be on March 14, running through the end of May).
We also announced a contest to win a scholarship to do Playing Around Online for free — all that was required to enter was to answer a survey as to time and logistical preferences, and answer the question “Why do you want to win the scholarship spot?”
The response was terrific, and the scholarship entries were all so wonderful it was really hard to pick! Among the entrants were several clients I’ve absolutely adored working with, friends from the online world, and friends from the 3-D world.
The truth is, I wanted all of them in the course!
But we’re running a business, not a charity, and our goal for Playing Around Online is to make money while we make a difference, so that we can do even more cool stuff to change the world. So we gritted our teeth and determined to limit the winner to one.
[Note: There will actually be a second opportunity to win a scholarship to Playing Around Online, plus other ways to potentially do the course for free, so be sure to subscribe using the form at the upper right and stay tuned!]
Ultimately, we chose the person whose entry most spoke to us as embodying the qualities we’re most looking for in our class participants, including:
- A positive outlook
- Readiness for transformation and change
- A sense of 100% responsibility for their own happiness
- A big creative hunger
Here’s the winning entry, from Christine:
It would be so cool to see what my life would be like during the 12 week journey. I am a full-time mum, an emerging full-time artist desperately trying to absorb everything out there in cyberspace to be successful while trying to find what kind of artist I’m going to be. To actually commit to “play” for that length of time. I have a hard time “playing” as my days are so structured trying to manage family, daily paintings, and coming up with a style to jump off from and produce a killer body of work, (I’m taking myself waaaay to seriously!) and I think it would force me to loosen up (omg! scary thought!) and remember why I got a second chance in life to rediscover my first love of making art and not caring who likes it or buys it. 🙂
Kelly and I loved that Christine is already imagining how her life will be changed by the course. That she’s working hard to figure out what she needs to figure out. That she knows she has a hard time playing and is ready to change that. That she understands the importance of making art for the love of it, even while she’s trying to figure out how to make a living from it.
I don’t actually care whether Christine — or anyone — wants to be an artist, or make a living from their art.
And to be clear, Playing Around Online is most definitely NOT limited to artists! As it says on our not-quite-live website,
We know you are supposed to “target your niche”, but really, Playing Around Online is for everybody! If you are interested in making art, or exploring your creativity, and you’re ready for some transformation, you are hereby given permission to come. No expertise required.
We aim to create a safe place to create, period. These are not master classes and the focus is not on perfecting your technique. Our name pretty much says it all, we want you to play and if you want us, we want you!
Please note: experienced artists and creators are welcome as well. We think everyone should take some time to play.
So, no, it doesn’t matter to me whether you want to make art, or make a living from that art. What I care deeply about is that she (and YOU, and everyone) follows her creative Bliss, whatever that Bliss might be.
What prompted me to share this today was an email from another entrant, and friend of mine:
So glad to read that a busy and full-time mum is giving herself permission to follow her art, and that she won! A mother (or father) who follows her (his) bliss is a MODEL for her child/children. Her/his following her/his passion speaks volumes to a child.
It moved me so much that this person, who also really wanted that free scholarship, could look past the fact that she didn’t win, and celebrate how wonderful it is that the person who did win will model for her kids the importance of keeping your Bliss at the center of your life.
I don’t have children, but I know that following my passion speaks volumes to those who know me, regardless of their age. It’s ultimately the reason why this blog exists.
And I intend to keep doing it.
Now your turn. What do you think? Did your parents follow their own Blisses? How did their model affect your mindset about your creative passions? And what are you doing now to feed your own creative hunger and follow your Bliss(es)?
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!