Monday, November 23, 2009

Pondering creativity and the enjoyment of tres leches cake…

"If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original." Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity

Shall we?

Last Friday a bitch had the rare pleasure of seeing my sister give a presentation at St. Louis University. I’m ridiculously proud of my sis for a lot of reasons…one being her ability to share knowledge and inspire others. After seeing her presentation on strategic planning, my respect for her skills has only grown.

C-Money’s talk included her showing the students Sir Ken Robinson’s talk at the TED Conference on the topic of creativity.

If you haven’t seen it give it a look here…’tis worth it, trust a bitch.

Robinson’s talk is about creativity and how traditional public schools stifle the hell out of it if not outright kill it.

Much has been made over the need to reform public school education in America. I’m a product of a public school education and I agree that a lot of shit needs to be fixed, the sooner the better. But I’m not for tossing the notion of public school out the window entirely…in a world where many do not get any schooling because education is seen as a privilege rather than a right, I know that one of America’s great achievements is that we have a public education system. And in this nation, where many would like to see education become yet another exclusive playground of the rich, the masses need to defend the structure and advocate for remodeling the hell out of it...this bitch is pretty damned sure that many of those pushing to tear the things down are also preparing to lobby against building a damn thing up to replace it.

***pause, sip a rather exception cup of coffee (two teaspoons REAL sugar with a splash of 2% yummified milk = joy), continue***

Having said all that, the current beast is anti-creativity…and, in many ways, that’s a reflection of American society. I’ve lived a lot of places (Boston, Great Barrington Mass., Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas) and I’ve visited even more…most communities are against creative expression…thought…people…structures…shit, anything different.

And Robinson’s talk reminded a bitch that one of the major reasons communities, organizations and people resist getting their creative on is for fear of fucking shit up.

We are conditioned to stand in front of ourselves when the thing we need to do is get out of our own fucking way.

Now that may seem like the most obvious thing you have ever read…but most of us don’t confront that reality enough.

We just don’t.

We look at beautiful, passionate and wild pieces of art…creations that stir our blood and damn near move us to tears…and appreciate them, yet we scoff at the idea that we (me, myself…I) have something like that struggling for freedom within ourselves.

So, while the blessed few among us who are able to defeat our fear and experience creativity go about the bitness of making and eating sumptuous cakes, the rest of us eat crackers…all because we afraid to risk fucking a few cakes up before we get that shit right.

Because society punishes the creative among us when they do fuck up…because deep down in the core of too many of us is a resentment toward those pretty ass cake making motherfuckers.

It took me years to see that shit for what it really is…the conditioning to conform that is drilled into all of us for so long that we’ve incorporated it into our flesh.

That fear is us (me, myself…I) standing in the way of our own ass getting our creativity on.

Because we don’t want anyone to laugh at us…to mock our fashion sense…to spit out a cake we’ve worked so hard on…to hate on us…to piss in our Corn Flakes…to kill our joy.

For fear of all that…we don’t dance, we buy clothes that everyone else is buying and eat crackers when we’re dying for some tres leches yummified cake.

We cast a safe vote on health care reform instead of the right vote...we don’t even eat Corn Flakes anymore and haven’t experienced joy in so long that we wouldn’t even miss it but for those damn creative folks out there flaunting their happiness all the motherfucking time.

Can a bitch get an amen?


I don’t know about y’all but this bitch needed to be reminded of that…big time.

Many thanks to my sister C-Money for that reminder and so much more…and congrats to her for a kick ass talk that I know touched more than one person in attendance.

Get your creativity on, y’all…get wild with it, go ahead and fuck shit up and learn from that...get out of the way of your own damn self.


Now I'm craving tres leches cake...


AOB said...

I completed the venture capital step one this weekend because I did not listen to the people that told me my simplified way of managing content data and meta data. Shit the application does not even LOOK like it was supposed to because some creative visual designer got his creativity on and simplified it even more.

I attended an inner city school in Indianapolis from 1959-1966. We had instrumental music, vocal music and art scheduled on regular days of the week. These three teachers had a schedule that included the entire school from K-8 and I still carry life lessons and skills from these wonderful people.

WOO WOO School #37!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for coming to the Campus Welch on creativity and strategy confab Shark Fu. And thanks for the kind words. You made me smile. And you know I'm moody on Monday mornings. I love you. Off to get out of my own way and get my creativity on.


IseultTheIdle said...

I have a quote from (supposedly) the I Ching in my mind: "Before the great man can achieve, he must appear foolish to the crowd."

There are a few poets to whom I tend to refer, over and over. They are touchstones in my life. This link leads to one of my favorites, Ferlinghetti:

Hypatia said...

This is beautiful and just what I needed to read this morning.
One of the things that's most joyful and hopeful about the internet to me is the sense of all these people, all over the world, quietly creating things and enjoying each others' creations, sharing them with strangers across great distance.
I know that the artistic creativity you mention here is meant as a metaphor for creativity in political and social activism, but I think there's a parallel there, too; we can share ideas, critique them, and challenge and inspire each other like never before.
I know that for me, having this ability to reach out to like (and unlike) minds all over the world has made me much less afraid and timid about being both an artist and an activist, in my small ways.
And you, Ms. Shark-Fu, are a major source of inspiration. Your words are like delicious tres leches cake for my brain. Cheers!

gaydem said...

Well said. I heard the tail-end of a radio interview the other day wherein the guest lamented the retreat in public schools from the arts and how detrimental that was for the development of young minds. After all, she said, what do we do in order to interact with young infants and toddlers? Sing, right? How do we interact with children as they get older? Draw, paint, color, read books, dance, play act---Good gawd, it's such a shame but some folks are just too stupid to live!!

Unknown said...

You ARE creative, lady! I like to read your stuff. And I agree that following your heart makes you happy~~
Sometimes it helps to just notice what you want to do when you first awaken. And do it.

Anonymous said...

I think we as a culture need to rediscover the unique joy of fucking up and looking silly doing it. It has a special magic all its own, but you can't experience that unless you are willing to laugh at yourself. We take too much shit so seriously. There are some things that are very serious, but there are other things that we think of as being serious that are really not.

Anonymous said...

Creativity is not just about painting, drawing and music. Creativity is about manifesting the life you want. "Education" today is already the playground for the rich, the wealthy. Public school teaches children where they are on the ladder of society. If you're black and get "free lunch" you are on the lower rung of the ladder. And everyone in the school,the administration knows who you are and defines you by how much money your parents make. But, a family can create the life they want by completely opting out of this paradigm. Public education is no longer a fair option. Creativity allows us to see that other life options exist.
Changing our lives is really creating. I am not devaluing the arts. Art is where we experiment with possibilities.

Anonymous said...

To paraphrase a wise man, adults should play and have fun so that children want to grow up.

Jason said...

How's it going?

I like your site a lot. There's a lot of interesting stuff on here. I'm a first-time visitor, but I'm liking what I'm seeing. I have a site that provides inspiration and guidance to people around the world. I'd like to exchange links with you to help spread some traffic around. Please let me know if this is possible.


dinthebeast said...

Thank you for the TED link; I have been showing it to everyone I can get to slow to a walk in the vicinity of my computer.
I like your take on creativity and risk. The dearly departed Frank Zappa once said in an interview:"I'm not afraid to take chances. Nobody is going to give me brown stars or punch my card wrong if I make a mistake." Still it needs to be noted how hard he had to work to set it up so that that was true, and against what kind of forces that would impose "normal" accepted standards in the name of commercial viability. I remember this being true in public school when I was there. Creativity at this point in our history is a must. New ways of doing almost everything we do must be dreamed up soon if our species is even going to be around past a few more generations. I believe we stand a better chance if we see it as a challenge to our creativity instead of as a threat to our lifestyles.

-Doug in Oakland

Unknown said...

Amen sista Shark fu..Amen. ;)

Sandra said...

You hit the nail on the head and I thank you. My sister said more or less the same thing to me about others stifiling their creativity or jealous from not having it when I had a piss & moan party about some twits dissin' my work and telling me I just COULDN'T have designed, created, formulated and done all the work for my biz. (I'm a soapmaker and cosmetic formulator and have a small biz and am doing what the hell I need to do to move it along to be successful.

I'm in the Ozarks and sometimes I think folks here are afraid of creativity. I love your blog and you say 80% of what I feel inside. The other 20% I feel, but let out to those that need to hear it. Which is too damn many, imho. Keep up your good work.

Mac Daddy Tribute Blog said...

As a former teacher and group facilitator, I'm so glad you wrote this piece. It's what I've been feeling for years but had a difficult time putting into words. But I understood.
1. I mad brainstorming an important of the curriculum.
2. I told my students that there were no dumb answers and I would not allow them to laugh at or ridicule anyone's answer or ideas.

Students soon began to feel confident in their answers. As we spoke on ideas, I made sure to include their answers, even ones that didn't seem to fit. They loved that, loved the feeling of having their ideas included.

Thank you, sister. I appreciate you and I'm linking you right now at Blessings.

Anonymous said...


You bring up an excellent point about creativity being up for the killing.

A lot of it has to do with taking arts and physical education out of schools. It's so wrong. Partly creativity is spurred by experience, and many public schools officials see the physical expression of ideas (aka arts, sports -- competitiveness) is being seen as a luxury. It's not a luxury.

The idea of the arts being in schools is no fluffy stuff. School trips to the symphony, museums, etc.. all those are on the block too. Trips like that bring new experiences and reflections on things a kid thinks she knows. It challenges a kid to think about their world, their experiences, and put together in a complex way...defined by that kid..aka..something person and something unique...something creative.. and then,...that creative idea, is then translated by that kid into something they create... art or life or scientific or practical...

Thanks for your fabulous insights.

charmngbilly of Still Walking, Not Falling... said...

this post was just beautiful!

J said...

I'm afraid I'm guilty of just that of what you speak sometimes. And yet other times, I am able to reach out and do what I know is right, to stand up for the creative and correct solution. I resent the fact that our politicians are not able or willing to do more in that department, but they are so afraid of not getting re-elected, their hands are tied behind their backs. Very frustrating.

Hard when what I like least about them is what I like least about myself as well.

Emily Moore said...

"Can a bitch get an amen?"


Anonymous said...

And I repeat: AMEN!

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