I took my kids school supply shopping this weekend. It is the annual trek for back to school items .The same list year after year-for the same items that mysteriously disappear between June and August. Everything is fresh, crisp, brand spanking new. Perfectly lined-up markers, well matched folders and notebooks, with nary a crinkle among the bunch. The yearly ritual of spreading the new supplies all over the floor and organizing and re-arranging over and over until it is a perfect fit in the new backpack has been completed.
The school year has once again commenced.
I know I am a sucker for the process. I can’t help it. I could demand (um…I meant…kindly request) that they go and find their old folders and perfectly serviceable pens and folders from last year, but I never do. I still remember the thrill of matching up the folders, the fantasy of being organized the entire year (that never happened), perfect pencils with even erasers, the smell of new crayons and the excitement of all those empty pages.
All those possibilities. Stories to write, notes to take, subjects to learn. Adventures to explore.
I admit it. I bought a few new notebooks of my own while we were there. I couldn’t resist the call of all those empty pages.
Even though I am in my fifties now and my yellow school bus days are far, far behind me, there hasn’t been a single autumn of my life that I haven’t spoken the words, “I wish I was going back to school too.”
Only now more often than not, my education begins in the form of rabbit holes instead of the classroom. You know what I mean. Internet Education. One comment here that sparks an interest, or a Facebook link that catches my eye and I can’t resist. I click.
The next think I know, my brain utters the magic thought.
And I am off to the Wonderland of Education itself- GOOGLE.
For me, Google is like having a university in a box. I spend at least an hour of my morning each day, rifling through websites, reading new information, taking notes, filling up notebooks with new information and tidbits I’ve learned.
But That Isn’t the Best Part
Learning new things is wonderful. It’s fun. I used to feel guilty as all heck about it, because I could spend hours and hours down those rabbit holes shooting off to one site and down the next, popping back up into a whole new spin on science or marketing or psychology that I hadn’t really thought of before. I don’t anymore. Now I schedule it into my day, every single weekday because I finally realized it was one of the most valuable things I do all day. And it wasn’t the actual information I was learning. That wasn’t the best part.
The Best part happens in the margins of the pages. Off to the side of the pages where my pen slides over and draws an arrow and writes things like: This is a great idea….Deb and I could take something like this and expand on it and create a workshop. Our clients crave information like this. Nobody shares this kind of info!!!! or….Hmmm…..What if there a guy who had this as a personality trait? Wouldn’t that make an interesting character in a story? What other traits would go with that? What would he look like? Add this to Idea book!!!
Golden nuggets, some not so golden, some I come back to a few days later and think…what in the world were you thinking, Crazy Lady? Doesn’t really matter. I was thinking.
My brain was out for a walk, turned on, exploring, inventing, creating…filling up empty pages.
The Exercise of Creation.
I can remember being a little girl, standing outside on a perfect summer day, in front of an easel and an enormous sheet of paper almost as big as the tiny girl I was. I stood there with my bright pots of paint, and my fat handled brushes and stared at that empty page, imagining all of the glorious creations I could paint there.
Of course, my imagination far surpassed my talent or skill. The little girl could have cared less. She splashed and splattered, the hot sun warm on her back, the breeze cool on her cheek, and the act of creation so very much more important than the outcome.
Our inner artist craves that act of creation now, as adults. The exercise of it, for no other reason than to just do it. To think up new thoughts, create new pictures, splash paint, learn new information to spark new ideas.
When we are children, everything is new. Every day is a brand new adventure, our brains are constantly bombarded with education, incoming stimuli, new thoughts, new concepts, other people’s feedback and opinions. When we leave the yellow school bus and university days behind, we run the risk of getting stale. We run the risk of treadmill days and hamster wheel lives, jumping on that same path day in and day out, write the list, do the list, cross off the list, sleep, wake, repeat again.
Robots are not Creators. They are repeaters.
As adults, we have to seek out ways to get new information and experiences into our life. We get comfortable. We settle into our comfort zone and it’s hard to get us out of there. And yet, the comfort zone is the LAST PLACE CREATIVITY is going to sprout!
New Empty Pages
The house is quiet again, the summer hustle and bustle has faded back into the solitary peacefulness that I love when the school bus whisks my children off to their own education stimulus.
I am here, alone, already filling the first few pages of my new notebooks…feeling that tiny rush of adventure, wondering what uncharted territory my mind will wander into.
It’s true that my oldest daughter affectionately calls me Crazy Lady from time to time, due to some of the crazy plots, ideas, twists and turns this ritual of mine has dreamt up in the margins of my notebooks. Not every idea is a keeper and some will be the fodder for many a grandchild’s laughter some day, I am sure.
But a few of them?
Well, let’s just say we are running a mighty fine business with those.