We gotta be careful of what we believe. Many Americans subscribe a little too heavily to the Amer-I-Can philosophy and it’s becoming contagious throughout–it’s the myth of the Lone Hero, the Rugged Pioneer or the Cowboy riding into the dusty town alone; it’s Mr. Frost telling us “I took the path less travelled and that made all the difference” or Emerson spinning out an ingenious essay on Self-Reliance. And then, everywhere you look, you see it: people being individuals; people wearing their individuality on the outside, on their sleeves, advertising for the supposed individuality within.
Recently, I mentored someone who told me his backwards fives were “how he makes his fives” and that his mother had told him it was “okay.”
It’s not okay. He needed to conform on that one. The value of individuality certainly has it’s limits. And conformity can be painful, tedious–even scary; (falling into the power of the collective and surrendering the little idiosyncrasies we thought defined us). But creativity is not inside your kid. Sorry. It’s not inside me, either. Don’t look there. Not under this morning’s newspaper or behind the dog’s ear. It’s outside and everywhere in a more total sense. Look to the trees (those pretty things we keep cutting down that help us breathe?) they’re always branching out in braves new ways to make the most of the world around them and yet grounded into the oldness of everything that ever was.