September 16, 2007

Goin' Way Back, Ep. 1

Dear Readers,

As this semester has begun for me, and now that I am extremely busy with applying to graduate school, I have not had as much time to blog. Thus, I am going back in the 'archives' finding some of my original articles, reading through, and adding some additional reflective material. The weeks where I don't do a previous critique, I will be submitting some of my poetry. So I thank you for the loyalty and after the semester I will return with fresh material. Otherwise please enjoy some reflections and some poetic misadventures.

Imaginable Immeasurable

This past weekend I was at home with my family. At one point my two nieces, ages 6 and 4 1/2 respectively, started an argument over their pretend jewelry. My mother does a very good job of getting the kids to use their imagination and provided them with some old, slightly tacky clothes for the girls to get dressed up as if they were going to a social. At one point my mother asked:

"Girls, how much do your rings cost?" To which my nieces replied:

"Mine's worth 1000."
"Well, then mine's worth's worth a million hundred."
"I have a ring that's more than 50 hundred."

This got me to reflect on two things, both natural. First is the sense of oneupmanship. To have something that is more than what someone else has. Some may say that this unhealthy for kids, but I don't know if I agree. You figure that my two nieces spend a lot of time together, and not too much time with other children right now (although they're both enrolled in different schools, I think they are just starting to form their societal connections). So part of their contrasting each other is a way for them to establish identity separate from the other. Yes, I'm sure there are more positive ways to do so, but there will have to come a time when they don't get the same presents out of 'fairness'.

More importantly is the concept of measurement. Even though their nomenclature is unorthodox (and probably inaccurate) without fully understanding the numeric system they seem to understand each other and that they are increasing amounts. I'm sure a lot of this would play into the fact that their brain is developing and trying to understand and link concepts. But it was fascinating to see how easy it was for them to create their own system without really knowing it. All because of their imagination.

I think for those of us 'older children' we need to be aware that we probably do the same thing. I'm sure that where ever you work there is some protocol for something. Someone had to create that. Someone had to imagine a group of people working through a system. A coach does the same thing. He/she draws up plays for the team for the players to act out.

So the next time you feel like you're not as creative as a friend or a coworker, just remember my nieces, and their invented numeric system.

Way Back Thoughts:
What do you do when your creativity is 'upended' by reality? Meaning, when you start to learn the numeric system or you uncover that santa claus is not real, is there an element of innocent faith that is somehow destroyed? I do see that when I've done programs where I ask the audience to draw. Many of them are quick to point out their inability to do so, yet I remind them that at one point they drew something as a kid (which probably was not easy to translate into 'adult') and were really proud of it. I think to regain that is not always the easiest, and one must find ways to first cultivate that same dreamer confidence then step forward.

Which brings me to the oneupmanship thought. I realize, sadly, that if this ability is as natural as creation, this may be one of the killers of innocent creation. If kids easily access this in life, and in any comparison something or someone has to be less, what happens to the children who always feel less? Likewise, I think that there's a strong change that if you were one-upped as a kid you may be unconsciously oneupping someone else, feeling the ability to be more vocal in different settings. We all have idiosyncratic security measures for our insecurities, yet I think the goal is to reconnect with our creativity, our imagination, and find ways to reinspire ourselves without trying to out do someone else.

It is easy to fall into a cycle of behavior, but I think it's powerful person who can be the one to stop it for themselves and eventually others.