Archives For creativity

O, Canada!

randomlychad  —  January 28, 2016 — 4 Comments

Canada. Land of maple syrup and poutine. America’s hat. You are home to some of the gosh darn nicest folks in this, or any other, galaxy. Lo, it has been many years since I visited your fair shores. But visit you I did one summer in my youth.

Here’s how it happened:

My bother and I were summering with the grandparents in the cool pines of Western Pennsylvania, when one say grandma decided we needed to see the falls. Niagara, that is. So she hustled us into her Oldsmolbuick, and off we were on a road trip. Over the river, and through the woods, with grandmother we went… to Buffalo. Home of wings, Bills, and freezing temperatures. And not a lot else.

In any case, grandma decided that experiencing the falls from the U.S. side, well, was falling a bit short. So crossed the border (“What’s your purpose in visiting Canada, eh?” “Coming to see the falls, sir.” “Well, have a lovely day, and don’t forget the syrup”), and headed for the view.

It was water. It was wet, moist, and misty. I’m not gonna lie, Marge, the surge of that powerful stream is pretty impressive. But it didn’t leave as much of an impression as the Canadian bread shop did. You see, grandma wanted to buy some bread. So why not buy it from a friendly Canadian shop keeper, eh?

So we did. And there, in amongst the loaves, was a special surprise.

“Grandma, what’s this?” I asked, holding up this unknown Canadian prize.

Turning to me, shrieked she, “Here now! Put. That. Down!” You have to understand, I was about eleven at the time. I goggled back at grandma, wondering what it was I held in my outstretched hand.

“Put that dirty thing down now! Where did you find that?”

You see, what I didn’t know at the time, what I held in front of poor grandma’s shocked visage, found there with the Wonderbread, was a Canadian wonder then unknown to my young mind:

An unrolled condom.
(It was probably maple-flavored, but we’ll never know).

O, Canada!

Like the popular Taylor Swift song, Blank Space, things have been quiet around here. Time was I enjoyed writing something everyday, but somewhere along the way lost the joy of it.

I forgot that the work was its own reward. It’s not about the comments, or the shares, the social media interactions, or the stats.

It’s about the work.

The sheer joy of creating something which yesterday did not exist. In Tolkien’s phrase, we are “sub-creators”–we create because we are made in the image of a creative God. He didn’t create for applause, but rather because it is his nature to do so. What do you think he meant in declaring creation “good?” Doing the work gave him, the most self-fulfilling being, immense pleasure.

That should be a clue to those of us who are compelled to create works of art (whatever form those works take). Don’t get get sidetracked by applause, acclaim, by being known–keep working, keep creating. It’s not about the glory, but about making the best art we can, and finding joy in the doing.

The work is its own reward. Let’s not forget this.

There Goes Tacos

randomlychad  —  March 12, 2015 — 2 Comments

So inspiration comes in a variety of forms and from many places. Today, I was playing Words with Friends with my friend, , and apparently played tiles in a spot he coveted for his own nefarious ends. Apparently, in Ricky-land, there’s a rule which states “whoever plays ‘taco(s)’ wins.” I thwarted his plans by playing the word “card.” In chat, he told me “there goes tacos!” What follows is a silly little piece inspired by this exchange.

“There goes tacos,” he said with a resigned shrug. It’s as if he’d hit the very rock bottom of what this day had to offer, and then someone went and knocked a hole in the bottom. What he wouldn’t give for a taco, and there it was–Taco Ricky’s–going up in flames.

How had it come to this?

His day began with an eviction notice. Then he had a flat tire, and was late to work (again). Then the boss, calling him into his office, said, “Sorry, Tom, you’re RIFed.” Because of where they were in the pay cycle his severance wouldn’t be available for a week. All he had was the money in his wallet (which wasn’t much).

There was enough for some beer. And Taco Ricky’s. The best tacos in all of Sandoval County. Taco Ricky’s was really just a roadside food stand, but man! No one made tacos like Ricardo “Ricky” Montalbob. Not no one, not nowhere.

Without any prospects, and nowhere to lay his head, Tom headed to White’s Blue Dragon (his favorite bar). He knew the bartender there, and hoped he could run a tab.

Tom had a few too many, and then got hungry. Arriving at Taco Ricky’s, he misjudged his speed, distance, and proximity to the taco shack. Tom crashed into it, rupturing the propane tanks which served to power the stoves inside.

Fortunately, “Ricky” himself was not inside (Tom forgot the stand closed early on Thursdays). Other than a flat tire, and some scrapes, neither Tom nor his car were hurt.

But the tacos were dead.

When the police arrived, they found Tom sitting on the curb bawling his eyes out.

“There goes tacos,” he blubbered. “What a winning day.”

The arresting officer replied, “Nobody wins when tacos die.”

It has been said that age is but a number. That we are only as old as we feel. “As a man thinketh,” etc.

There is a certain truth to this. And having a positive outlook certainly has benefits. In this sense, age is just a number.

But aging is cold, hard fact. I first became cognizant of this in my late twenties: a few of the whiskers in my beard took the inexorable spin on the color wheel to gray.

But I didn’t feel any older. (The gray has since spread like a disease, slowly making its way from the center of my chin up the sides of my face).

A little later, the early thirties, my metabolism showed signs of decline: I could no longer eat what I wanted without consequence.

And then one morning I awoke to find that, while they never had before, consuming too many sweets precipitated nausea. It was around this same time I discovered that any amusement park rides which involved spinning introduced a rather greenish cast in my otherwise lily white skin.

The late thirties brought with them: bladder problems, sleep apnea, and hypothyroidism. All treatable, but all nevertheless leaving me (subjectively) feeling much older than I ever had.

The last several years have been a time of transition, evolution, and entropy:

I’m objectively, quantifibly becoming something: older.

My body is evolving (or devolving) as time goes on (evolution=change over time).

And I’m slowing down. Entropy–the second law of thermodynamics. “Things wear out, the center cannot hold…”

Just at the time when things are heating up professionally, and personally, my get up and go has got up and went. I have ideas, but no stamina to execute on them. Such cruel irony.

My son recently asked if I wanted to live forever. My reply? In this body? God, I hope not. I want an upgrade! I want one that doesn’t get weary, one that doesn’t have sleep apnea, one that doesn’t have upper eyelids that are puffy and drooping.

I want an upgrade.

Thankfully, one is coming. It’s only requirement is that I die. That’s the deal: birth requires some kind of death. Sperm cells and ovum, once united, are no longer what they were–have in fact died to their old natures to bring forth be life. So it is with the Christian: “though the outer man is perishing, the inner man is being renewed day by day.”

So in the meantime, between now and when God calls me home, I will practice the only death afforded me:

Death to self. Pressing on in spite of life’s hardship and frailties. Trusting that what He says is true. And I’d like to think that, because I need it so much more, I understand grace just a little bit better. His grace suffices, and I fall upon it everyday. I fall, and He makes me to stand.

I can–because He did, and does.

I’m not too old, too busy, or too tired to dream. Sure, I’m older, and my body is (as is yours) marching towards decay, I’m not dead yet.

And neither are you.

Let’s choose to die daily to the desire to give up, to throw in the towel.

A story is written one word at a time–line upon line. Likewise, a painting is made one brush stroke at a time. Weight is lost one pound at a time, walking happens one step at a time…

Dreams are achieved when all the small steps we take are added together into a new whole. We can do hard things.

So take the next step, my friends. There is always grace sufficient for that. We can do it.

Create Past the Pain

randomlychad  —  November 28, 2012 — 18 Comments

Towards the end of the classic movie, Princess Bride, there is a scene where Westley–recently resurrected–bluffs his way through a confrontation with the the evil Prince Humperdinck. He threatens a duel–not to the death, but “to the pain.” To my mind, this is what we who call ourselves creative must do with the “Resistance.” We must wrestle it to the pain, through the pain, to get to the work we were made to do.

You say you are not creative? I don’t believe you. Bestselling author Tosca Lee says, “We are made in the image of the most creative being in the universe… But we allow things to get in the way.”

Things such as the resistance.

What is the the resistance? Whatever gets in our way. Whatever fears, doubts, messages, which assail us, and keep us from creating. You already know this, but it bears repeating:

No one else in this world of seven billion souls has the same well of experiences from which to draw. No one else has your unique perspective and voice.

Because no one else is you!

And you can do it! We need your voice. I need your voice.

Because it helps me to know that I am not alone, not crazy, in the pursuit of my dream.

Now: create your hearts out, write until your fingers bleed, your heart bleeds, your arms ache from sculpting, painting… And then do it some more! Cast off the fetters which restrain you from doing the creating you really want to do, feel called to do.

When you do that, the magic happens–because honoring the gift, whatever it is, honors the ONE Who gave it to you.

Create through the pain, past the pain, and get up tomorrow, and do it again. Because the resistance is not going away. But like Prince Humperdinck, we can threaten it into submission, quell its voice, and get down to work. The resistance does not fear getting ugly with you, so be ruthless in conquering it. Because you will find that it is, afterall, just a bully.

And like most bullies, the resistance is really a coward at heart.

So resist the resistance.

And do it one day at a time. Because that’s all we have to work with: one day at a time. Your courage, in the face of your fears, encourages not only me, but everyone watching.