"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." -- Pablo Picasso
From the time a child can pick things up he experiments with different ways to put things together. He is constantly exploring: manipulating the things in his environment in myriad ways. There are no rules to follow or expectations to live up to.
Children will try anything. They paint because it is fun to paint. They do not judge what they have done. It is not about that. They may decide to build something and are excited because they built it, not because of how it turned out.
If you can remember back to when you were little and did these things you will remember you did them because it was fun. Somewhere along the line, however, many children begin to compare their creations with those of others and judge theirs as less good. They are less likely to undertake creative endeavors because they do not make them feel successful.
By the time we reach adulthood, the world seems divided into those who are creative and those who are not. Those deemed not to be creative essentially stop creating. This is unfortunate, because creativity is an important part of being human. I use the word "creative" to refer to the act of creating, rather than a descriptor of something that is unique.
Creating gives us a break from the rational analytical thinking that dominates our culture. Whether one is doing drawing, painting, sculpture, carpentry, sewing, or simply rearranging the furniture, it draws upon a different part of our brain.
In this regard I worry about the time children spend with technology. Thinking, creating, doing things with their hands develops intelligence in a way that television or computer games cannot. When children are plugged in like this, even spending hours on a cell phone, there is simply no time to go inside oneself to see what might want to come out.
If you are an adult who once did creative things, but have gotten away from those, try adding some back into your life and see how it adds balance and perhaps even a sense of inner peace.
If you have not done anything creative because you think you just are not "creative," try doing something just for the fun of it. Go to a craft or art store and get some stuff. Go home and play with it. You do not have to show anyone and it does not have to look "good." You just might find that you have a lot of lost time to make up for.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit www.gwen.ca