creativeThere is a creative intelligence within you that has been imprisoned since childhood, sentenced to a maximum security prison for the crime of self-expression. It’s desperate to break out from behind the four electronic doors that keep it hidden from you and the world.

The lock down began in your family when you first heard messages like: color within the lines; grass isn’t orange; people don’t have blue faces. Then there was the hysteria that ensued when you thought the living room wall would make a great canvas. Or maybe your sibling or parent was the real artist. You were supposed to hide your talent so they could shine.

The second door was locked by your teachers. In the process of helping you become a real artist, they taught you that you were no good. There was a right way to do it, and if you couldn’t or wouldn’t do it that way, you were no good. The so-called “best” pictures were put on display and held up as examples for everyone to honor. The rest of the students were the “have not’s.” They were made to feel bad about their work through benign neglect or direct criticism.

Our society shut the third door. It tells us what good art, music, writing, acting, or dancing is. There’s legitimate theater, experimental dance, fine arts versus arts and crafts. Then we have the critics who make sure we don’t color out of the lines or dance in the aisles.

Finally, we locked the last door on ourselves. Creating became a high risk venture. Fear of criticism coupled with self-doubt separated us from our own creativity. It was much safer to be the audience than the creator. Now we love going to concerts, seeing plays, attending art openings. We try desperately to feed the artist within ourselves through viewing and critiquing someone else’s art, all the while knowing that we are hiding. Like Rip Van Winkle, everyone thinks your artist is dead. In fact, it’s pacing incessantly inside a tiny cell, waiting desperately for an opportunity to escape.

Today is that day. The guards are so sure you’ll never have the courage to escape that they’re all playing cards in the coffee break room. Their music and chatter are so loud that they’ll never hear the electronic doors or your footsteps. Your job is easy. You just have to push the button to open each door and walk out into the freedom of self-expression and artistic creativity.

What has this article motivated you do? I’d love to hear from you about the steps that you are taking or questions about how to take that first or next step.