Embracing Reckless Abandon, Optimism And Curiosity

1. Write and Tell Stories

If you ask a child to tell you a story, all you have to do is say the words “Once upon a time”, they’ll fill in all the blanks with no concern for a plot that makes sense, characters that are properly developed or any of that. They approach it with a sense of reckless abandon, optimism and curiosity.

Adults on the other hand need crystals, candles, mantras, shrines, and battle with writer’s block. We forget how to write.

A kid would think you were out of your mind if you tried to explain writer’s block to them. They live in a world free of rules with an imagination unplugged from the matrix.

Adults live entirely in a world based on rules, almost all of which are inherited or thrust upon us by some well meaning individuals who wanted to make sure we didn’t screw up too badly.

2. Draw and Paint

Hand a kid a paper and they will draw ANYTHING. But somewhere along the way self awareness kicks in. In Creativity Inc, Pixar founder Ed Catamull noted the stark contrast between the free spirited work of kindergartners and the safe self conscious work of the older students. Another place where the diminishing of self expression becomes apparent is in the education section of a local bookstore. Our school curriculum goes from having a tremendous opportunity for self expression to none at all, from training artists and thinkers, to training factory workers.

All adults can draw. They just forget.

3. Sing and Dance

In Texas music education is mandatory for a certain period of time. Looking back, it was a pivotal part of my development. In 6th grade we are given choices of band, choir and orchestra. There’s no sign of an inherent talent in any one. We simply go where our curiosity leads us. We’ll sing, we’ll make horrible sounds with our instruments, and drive our parents and our siblings insane.

But after a few years our fate is sealed. We’re either talented or not.

Mostly, I feel like an idiot when I’m on a dance floor. And I can’t carry a tune to save my life. Maybe you heard your own voice when you read that.

Most, if not all of these things we know how to do with reckless abandon, optimism, and genuine curiosity. We just forget. We play it safe, stay within our comfort zones, and go quietly into the night without writing our stories, painting our paintings, or singing our songs.

In that process we perform the rather insidious act of robbing the world of the gift that we are put here to give. So maybe, just for a brief moment in time today, embrace your tendencies for reckless abandon, optimism and curiosity.

I’m the host of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast. Subscribe to the podcast viaiTunes or Stitcher.

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