What's the difference between you and Michelangelo? Okay, so you're not a Renaissance Italian and you have no personal relationship with marble or colored plaster. Perhaps you don't have access to any exceedingly wealthy patrons either.
Other than that, you have a whole lot in common, just by being members of the homo sapiens club. We are a spectacularly creative bunch. Much as I love squirrels and elephants, not many of them have written great novels or made a Halloween costume for a kid.
We all know how long it would take a large number of monkeys with typewriters to reproduce the complete works of Shakespeare. Maybe they'd be faster with an iMac, but it would still be plagiarism. They just lack that "creative'' thing.
I stand in awe of the clever woman who discovered that yeastie-beasties in a wad of damp flour, left to their own devices on a summer afternoon, produce a warm, fragrant loaf when cooked instead of a hard, flat disc. And kudos to her sister who twisted stuff into string, and to her daughters who built a loom or discovered that using a couple of pointy sticks, that string could grow into an unattractive, ill-fitting sweater.
Hats off to the mud-pie maker who turned his mud into a vessel that would hold water. They started right off decorating those mud pies. Some of them turned their mud pies into bricks that made the ovens and the shelters they all lived in while twisting that string and baking that bread. That's creative genius.
Why aren't you painting a picture this morning? If you're nervous about painting anything without lessons, why? Chances are your mother isn't going to tell you it's a stupid waste of time. I am the not-quite-proud owner of a bunch of paintings on Masonite. They're very colorful depictions of reptiles and insects. Now right away, if you paint stuff like that, there are those whose reaction will be "yuk'' because they really don't see the beauty in what they consider vermin. So be it. I may not be a "proud'' vermin painter, but I'm a happy one.
Grandma Moses wasn't super-confident about showing people her pictures. The people who mixed up slimy stuff to make pictures on the walls of their shelters weren't doing it with an exhibition in mind. Galleries tended to be of the remote cave-wall variety. It didn't stop them.
I'll bet Michelangelo made a mess out of the first few rocks he attacked. Chefs start out burning toast and turning perfectly respectable veggies into mush. You have an advantage. You have the experience of a lifetime full of creative endeavors under your belt. All you have to do is stop sitting on your creativity. Let it come out and play.
Civilizations and nations that value and promote creativity and ingenuity are nations that thrive. Going to the moon required those qualities just to get off the ground. Darling Husband left Switzerland and came to the United States, recruited for the Apollo missions. His variety of creativity involves groups of creative people working together. Quilting is one of those group inspirations as well. Ever tried that?
We all have that ability and inclination. For most of us it isn't the driving force in our lives. Trouble is that we are all creatures of habit, too, and if you haven't previously included your creative inclinations in your daily world, it just doesn't come immediately to mind.
Most of us wake up thinking about what we have to do each day. Perhaps we feel a little guilty considering what we want to do. "Duty before pleasure,'' "others depend on me,'' "I don't have the time,'' etc. . . . Wait just a cotton-pickin' minute! You're not a robot! Your creative abilities are still there waiting for you to try them out for no reason other than satisfaction. You may surprise yourself.
Okay, here's your best excuse to do creative stuff you actually want to do. Economic times are hard and likely to get worse before they get better. The holidays are here, complete with that whole gift-giving thing. This year, paint some pictures. Paint rocks or chunks of wood. Record your piano version of some Scott Joplin tunes. Get a lump of clay and make some pots or figurines. Whatever. Personal gifts from the heart are usually welcome.
I think I'll write a story for my youngest grandchild. It'll have to be about reptiles and/or bugs if I want to illustrate it. That ought to keep me busy for a while. Join me. Let your little light shine.
Sheila Stoll can be reached in care of LifeTimes, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.