Sometimes the most powerful lessons come from the most innocent perspectives.
Last night, I had a profound lesson in the nature of creativity. Our daughter, Kalliste, was singing a song she made up on the spot. I should note, this is actually a common occurrence in our house. She will often be inspired to sing her way through an event, or a moment in time. Sometimes, she is simply describing the world around her in the form of a song.
One day, I remember her singing the repetitive refrain of, “Figuring it out, we’re figuring it out. Figuring it out, figuring it out.” She and her twin brother were in the process of trying to open the living room window using the cranking mechanism . They were standing on stools that they had moved across the room to gain better leverage in their efforts.
It was a memorable moment for me, not because they actually got the window open, but because it showed me how deeply songs are ingrained in her psyche. From her perspective, anything and everything can be described in song.
Last night was no different. We were outdoors at a birthday party for a family friend. We’d been enjoying the birthday festivities, and it was obvious that both kids were in their element. Running around in the fresh air is everyone’s favourite thing to do!
Kalliste had just finished up one lilting, sing-song effort, paused, took a breath, glanced up at the trees, then looked right back at me and declared, “I feel another song coming. I’m going to sing it now.” She proceeded to belt out a new tune, different in tone and structure than the previous one. This new song was all about the wind in the trees.
I stood, quite awestruck at what I had just witnessed. Her proclamation: “I feel another song coming,” indicated to me that she wasn’t the sole creator of the songs. The inspiration, or creative spark, came from somewhere, and she was allowing herself to become the conduit through which the song traveled.
In her book, If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland describes it this way: “And how do these creative thoughts come? They come in a slow way. It is the little bomb of revelation bursting inside you.” (Ueland, p. 38)
Our daughter had shown me how the little bombs of creative revelation go off in her. They are spontaneous, spirited and fun-filled. There is no angst, no waiting for the perfect moment, or the perfect word. They simply happen, creative sparks that translate into music from her soul. Simple and profound.
This, then, is what needs to happen in each of our creative efforts. No more striving to find the perfect anything; rather we must allow ourselves to just be present in the moment. The songs will come. We will feel it. I have it on good authority. “From the mouths of babes” has taken on a whole new meaning in our house.
Originally published August 24, 2015. This post was originally published through my newsletter, Sunday, Simplified.