One of the greatest gifts in having children is observing the certainty with which they engage the world. Kids have not yet settled into the neurotic mental patterns created by the need for significance. They go about their days with a strong sense of purpose and play, never stopping to question if what they’re doing is what they “should.”
Will this advance my career? What will other people think? Do I have time for this? These questions don’t plague little minds like those of us who have lived a wee longer.
My seven-year-old daughter is drawing a series of groundhog pictures where each character has a different human trait. One wears a tie and works as a math teacher, another is a cook and her specialty is pies. She’s drawn an intricate labyrinth of tunnels that is their neighborhood. She could care less who will see it and what will happen with it once she’s finished (thought she’s elated to share with anyone who will look!). She comes home from school and immediately heads down to her room to work on her graphic masterpiece. Her sense of purpose is unwavering, untainted and inspiring.
It’s the same way my five-year-old son builds Legos, plays with them for a day or three, and then breaks them apart to build a new version of his latest idea. He does not morn the loss of what he built before, or worry if maybe his newest creation will be as good as the one prior. He just goes for it. All in. It’s awesome.
16 years ago, before I left to study abroad in Nepal, my mom took me to the outdoor mall in Boulder to see Tibetan monks making sand mandala creations and then washing them into the Boulder Creek to represent impermanence. The amount of time and commitment that went into these beautiful creations was impressive. The artwork itself was outstanding. And to see them being washed away in an instant was most certainly spiritual.
To let go is a lifelong practice for me in a world where objectives, deadlines and outcomes rule. The creative process teaches me this again and again.
As women, we create entire universes in our homes, in our communities, in our workplaces, in our kitchens, on the page and in the studio. But so rarely do we honor these intangible masterpieces because so many of them are immeasurable. That which gets attention and praise in our world is that which is seen, marked and out there.
How do we measure the love, humor and patience we’ve put into our children? How do we account for the months or years that it took to craft our most important piece? How can we verbally capture the value of spending time with a loved one who is in pain? Yet these are each beautiful creations.
We women know the secret gift of creation and how its subtleties cannot be boiled down to a singular, tangible objective. We behold this very potential in our bodies, in our spirits and in our hearts.
So, my fellow creators, may we all birth something today. And whether it be seen or unseen, may we know deeply of its value and move towards our calling to create with childlike certainty.