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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Snowboarding In July? In Illinois?

Lessons Learned

The Improbability, The Impracticality, and The Impossibility of Creativity


To say yes, or to say no, that is the question. I challenge you, over the course of one day, to count the number of times you say yes to your children and also the number of times you say no. Then examine your heart to determine your reason for saying each. Which is easier to say? And is it easier because it requires less of your effort or your time ultimately? If your choice is based on which is easier for you, well then maybe that’s simply not good enough. It’s not practical. It’s not really even possible. It can’t possibly work. It may not even be very safe. A prerequisite for creativity, for discovery, for innovation, for learning, growing, understanding, wisdom, or even wondering is certainly not necessarily safety. These things are all quite risky and often involve stepping out of the safety box; the boring, predictable box of status quo. Well, on numerous occasions through the course of many years raising my 3 boys the yes or no issue cropped up, and this particular day was rather typical…
 It was an ordinary July morning about to become an extraordinary one as well as an indelibly etched memory simply because of the word “yes,” which is creativity’s favorite word. In a world of “no’s,” where everyone has a reason why not, why you shouldn’t or can’t, why it’s ridiculous or a great waste of time, or what would clearly be better, which is all about those who are the naysayers and how their ideas trump anything thing else on the table, the brave, small voice of yes fiercely fights to stand firm and hold open the door of possibility. Nothing crushes the possibility or the actuality of creativity more completely than a no face, a no spirit, or a no personality, yet no is easiest answer, because, like a hot knife through butter, it cuts off the inefficiency and messiness associated with creativity and keeps us all neatly in lock-step, robotic and only superficially engaged. Once you say yes, the lid of Pandora’s box flies to the wind and time is caught up in the swirling wonder of imagination; a place of play and a place of seeing things differently.  This is a precious place where joy and innovation collide and burst together into a splash of technicolor brilliance. It was pouring with rain this hot July morning, and it had been pouring with rain on and off over a number of days in a row. Inside activities, experiments, and projects were ongoing in every corner, when one of my sons casually presented the genuine wish of his heart in that moment, “I really would like to go snowboarding today.” In the nanosecond subsequent to the proclaimed wish, my mind raced between yes and no, why and why not, practical or impractical, possible or impossible, ridiculous or exhilarating, and I attempted to buy a pinch of time with the obvious  question,  where could we go in July? As if the entire seemingly problematic gap between winter and summer had been fully scrutinized and mentally bridged, hence resolved, prior to the question, the response was simply and immediately, mud is as slippery as snow. Hmmm. Of course.  So with the yes door flung wide open, we loaded the board in the car and set out in the pouring rain to find steep enough muddy hills adequately suitable for mud-boarding. The perfect hill was discovered.  He was absolutely right about mud being slippery as snow.  Run after run after run with increasing laughter, increasing rain soaked mud caked clothes, and increasing competence on the mud slope, my son lived his July wish. Joy. Test and full affirmation of what to some no faces might have seemed a ridiculous impractical impossibility. An idea dreamed, an idea tried, a wish fulfilled. All because of yes.  Every yes most certainly builds significant confidence toward the next new idea, which is exactly the place where creativity loves to dwell. Are there enough yes’s at school? Are there enough yes’s at home? Are we wearing yes faces enough so that this next generation of dreamers can imagine, then plan, then build an exciting and hopeful future?