Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Creativity and Can't

I'm sitting around a lot lately. I've never had fibro like this before, where the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet feel bruised, so I can't really do anything (holding a knife, walking, opening cans, etc hurt). My hips and legs and arms all ache, which adds to the difficulty in accomplishing anything.

So I'm sitting around a lot, looking at Facebook and the news and my email and thinking when the brain fog isn't too intense (which it usually is).

Today, I started seeing those stupid cards on Facebook again.

For example, one card advised that one of your New Year's Resolutions should be to cut out the word "impossible."  It's a nice warm fuzzy thought, that we can do anything as long as we believe we can. But it's really one of the stupider things I've heard.  Impossible is a reality in life. It's meant to be that way. We each have different gifts and different handicaps and different circumstances, and while it's nice to say I could earn a million dollars this month if I tried hard enough, it's not really possible. I'm never going to be able to play in the NBA, even when I'm not pregnant. I'm not able to fly without help, as much as I'd like. I am never going to be able to live loop a song.

It's really unfair to tell people with handicaps, like fibro, that the reason they can't do things is because they are thinking about it all wrong--that if they just tried harder and believed harder, they could do what they want to do. Fibro stops me from being able to play the piano without pain. I tried to take pictures of Tim yesterday and discovered that I can't hold a camera up in front of my face--my arms hurt and then they just won't cooperate.

Sometimes "I can't" and "It's impossible" are the most important things we can say because they allow us to accept our limitations--and either move on in a different direction (finding other pastimes and talents, for example, instead of playing piano) or ask for help (so that Tim makes dinner on the days that I hurt too much to hold a knife). Really, accepting "can't" and "impossible" are far more empowering than abolishing those things from our vocabulary. God gave us all things we can do, and we're much more happy and productive if we work on those things--the things that are easy and enjoyable, or the things we feel driven and motivated to work hard on--instead of wasting our whole lives pursuing unrealistic goals that we really can't do. (Not to say we should never do hard things--of course we should. But chasing impossible things is stupid.)

Another one I saw today said that an essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.  I think a businessman  must have written that. All (except maybe 1) of the creative people I know (and I know a LOT) are deeply terrified of failure. They are even more afraid of failure than the non-creative people I know. Most have so much anxiety about failure that they need counselling and medication (even if they don't get it).

And that fear is actually what motivates them to keep going and keep refining and keep polishing and keep perfecting their art. It's the thing that makes them rewrite the novel fifteen times until they're sure it's good, and then revise it again ten more times based on the feedback they got from one or two trusted people. It's the thing that makes them write a hundred songs and only release the best ten. Or one. It's the thing that makes them throw away dozens of canvasses and only try to sell the best one.

People who are not afraid to fail are not driven to succeed.

Sure you can be creative if you aren't afraid to fail--you're not afraid to look at things in new ways. But the really, truly creative people I know are the ones who can't help but think outside the box (not the ones who do because they aren't afraid to). It's not a change in thinking that makes them able to be intensely creative. They just ARE that way--and often are ashamed of it, frustrated by it, terrified of it. They are people who say, "Why can't I be normal?", not people who say, "Maybe if I work at failing on purpose, I can lose my fear of it and then I can be more creative." They are people who know it's irrational, know it's a "waste of time", know it's not financially viable, but they can't help lying awake at night thinking of new ways of doing things, new things they could create, new conversations for characters to have, new poems or lyrics to songs.

It has nothing to do with lacking a fear of failure, and everything to do with an internal compulsion that won't let them go. Creativity is not something they do on purpose. It's an essential part of their being, like breathing.

And the ones that develop it into something amazing are more often than not terrified of failing.

The American Dream

I keep seeing things like this article, claiming that the American Dream is in its death throes for those in my generation.

But when you read the article, it becomes clear that what they are defining as The American Dream is getting a good job and becoming a millionaire.

They got it wrong!

Traditionally, the American Dream was to have a family and own a house for them to live in--not a giant house, just a moderate house big enough for the family with a little yard.

And that dream is still within reach of people. What's not realistic is for a whole generation to become single millionaires with no obligations at all, or for them to work in their dream jobs for their whole lives without any break.

But that's the wrong dream anyway. It was never realistic for an entire generation to become millionaires. And living without family and without obligation is not actually going to make anyone happy. It will just make them old and lonely, selfish and egotistical, disconnected and drifting. The thing they define as The American Dream was just a set-up anyway: a setup for disappointment, for loneliness, for a long unresolvable midlife crisis as everyone discovers too late that what they should have done was spend less time working and more time building a family (which is one of the few things we really do have a biological deadline on).

Notice that God never said "Chase your dreams".  God never said, "Get a good career and work your way up the ladder."  God never said, "Earn a million dollars and live 'the life.'" And if God wants us to be happy, and He's given us a roadmap for happiness, and He left those things off, then apparently none of those things will get us there, despite how appealing they seem when we're young, and despite how much our culture has pushed the selfish way (because really all those things are about ME--my dreams, my career at all costs, my success, my money, my plans--and I guess focusing on  ME is, ironically, not the way to make me happy).

The American Dream, the way it used to be, is not dead. There are still opportunities for people to find love, build a family, have a steady career (even if it's not your dream work), buy a modest house to live out your life in. And that kind of dream is worth pursuing, and it is more in keeping with the guidelines God has given us--family, work (but reasonably, to stay alive and stable--not compulsively, to do nothing else but get money), stability and participation in a community all are included in that old American Dream. It's not a flashy dream. It's not something that will make you more special than someone else. It doesn't follow the new definition of "Success," but it encompasses the things we need to be successful at in order to be happy. (Hint: none of those includes having a lot of money).

That other American Dream? RIP and good riddance. It wasn't a good dream anyway, even if it looked like it should be.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Did I just read that?

"Mourners line the street as a hurst carrying Emilie Parker drives by following funeral services for the 6-year old Connecticut elementary shooting victim, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, in Ogden, Utah."

Tim's related to the Hurst family. I didn't know they were in the body-moving business, though.  

Oddly, this is the second place I've seen this particular mistake online just today.  (The word, by the way, should be "hearse"). 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wearing Pants to Church

Have you seen this? "Wear Pants to Church Day".

I have seen this in several places lately, as feminists I know encourage each other to join.

And I find it completely ludicrous.

First of all, there is no prohibition against wearing pants to church for women. So how is this a protest against the church? Might be a protest against some areas' cultural traditions, for sure, but it does not say what the women involved think they are saying.

Secondly, it announces that women feel like they can't have power and influence unless they "wear the pants," which says to me they don't value what women are and think women should be more like men. Stupid stupid stupid. Women can be incredibly powerful sources of good in the world without trying to be men. And we all--men and women--are happier if we embrace our divine nature as well as our individual talents and gifts, instead of always seeking to be someone else. Men and women are different, and there should be no shame in that. As far as I know, only the feminists are ashamed of that. Ironic, no?

Finally, it's a rather blunt statement that the women involved don't believe that Jesus is running this church and, further, don't believe that the prophet or apostles talk to God. It really lowers the church from being the true church of God, run by revelation, to being just another of those religious organizations that atheists believe exist purely to extort and control people, run by people for their own purposes and their own glory, even if with good intentions. Might as well wear a T-shirt that says, "Forget God. Put me in charge because I'm smarter than He is."

There are certainly problems that crop up in the church. I don't believe it's infallible. It's is administered by people, after all, and sometimes those leaders (especially on the local level) can get mired in all manner of sins and mistakes, even when they have good intentions. I don't deny that happens. (I do think it's silly to say only male leaders make mistakes and offend people, though. I've had as much trouble and sorrow from the actions of women in the church as men--we're all just people, male and female! It's really ridiculous to claim the church would have fewer mistakes made and fewer offended people if women were in charge).

But there are better ways to effect change than wearing pants to church--like going right to God and telling Him your issues, and then working within the system, following the Spirit, to make things better.

Even if you really DO believe that God has said women should have the priesthood and the prophets and apostles are digging in their heels and refusing to change for their own benefit, I don't think having a social protest is going to get any positive results at all. And it certainly isn't going to get you, personally, into the kind of influential position you would need to have in order to change that. Sometimes working within a broken system is more effective than working against it. (And I don't think this system is broken, but if you did, this would be a poor course of action to choose--especially since the church as a whole is going to ignore it, and it will just prejudice the local leaders against using you in any callings).

Personally, I have worn pants to church before. I was in a church building in pants the week before last, in fact, just as the meetings got out. And last week several women came to church in pants in my ward. It wasn't a political statement, and nobody cared what they were wearing.

But I would be embarrassed to wear them this Sunday! It feels too much like a statement to the ward, not that I think women should have the priesthood, but that I have no faith in God or the prophets and I don't understand what the scriptures teach about the priesthood. I'd be embarrassed to say that to everyone, even if it were true!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Did I just read that?

From Longmont's paper, the Times Call today: "The man, identified as Pedro L. Villa, who's believed to be either 19 or 21 and is suspected of  “entering many of these homes at night, through unliked doors, while the residents are asleep,” Longmont police Cmdr. Jeff Satur said."

I guess he doesn't want to come through doors that people like.

Also, that is a perfect example of a very long sentence fragment. If you take out all the clauses, you're left with "The man," which isn't a sentence.