Taking A Stand In Your Unique And Creative Self.
By Wren Haffner
What are the hardest things to do?
I would wager that it is the things that the outside world does not endorse. People are given more than food as they grow up. From infancy we are fed ideas about “the way things are”. Children are naturally free-spirited, full of imagination and endlessly creative. Yet over time often the destructive voices surrounding them from youth tear down the creative penchants of a child’s natural way of being. Voices of poverty, practicality, peer pressure, pain, and parental guidance pound on the door of their young selves and replace the imagination, shame the limitless expression and drown out and curtail the free-spirited nature. It should not go unnoticed that it is very difficult to rebuild these back once they are torn down in youth, but it is possible. It is very possible. And the hope of our world and our own spirits depend upon it.
People, as anthropologists find worldwide, are naturally creators of culture. It is an organizational structure upon which the very foundations of our lives are set. We would be lost, disorganized, chaotic without it, yet it is the role of the dreamer within each of us to critically & creatively face chinks in “the way things are”. Certainly there is no static perfection available in the universe, yet step by step, better by better, more apt , fun & healthy adaptations can be found.
Growing through “the way things are” to create anything alternative is always a miracle. Mindsets are one of the hardest things to stand up against, grow through and bloom from. Imagine a young child raised in poverty, strapped with financial responsibility and entrenched in familial ways of being which both encourage and stifle the child. As the child grows perhaps the imagination isn’t encouraged toward “dreaming” or envisioning different solutions for everyday problems for a myriad of reasons. Slowly over time the creative edge atrophies. I suggest that it never in fact dies, but can numb over or be cast away into a forgotten nook in some inner closet.
For a child in a situation such as this, it is nearly impossible to bring to light creative options. Everything that makes up “the way things are” is in opposition to this kid’s ideas. The family chides the kid when the ideas are brought up and even if the family doesn’t discourage the child, the harsh reality of the situation will. Even if we are not a part of impoverished situations growing up, I can see the difficulty of “everyone’s” situation: environmental pressures push us away from creative dreaming and toward fulfilling practical cultural norms.
How easy is it for any one of us to stand up in the face of norms, especially when they are tied to economic realities? Cultural norms are some of the most innocuous, entrenched, hard-to-shift patterns in existence. As Ani Difranco says of capitalism, “it’s as easy as breathing for us all to participate.” Oftentimes we don’t readily have a choice to be a part of something other than the pervasive norm because norms are the inherently organizing structures of our cultures- we produce them (or go along with them) without thought. They are “the way things are.” Yet, what if “the way things are” is not just unsuitable to the strong creative dreamers on the planet? What if the pervasive, ever-present “way things are” is actually killing life on the planet? Threatening the existence and perpetuity of our very culture? What if “the way things are” is harmful to life? To us? To animals, ecosystems, air & water?
Truly, this isn’t a What If – this is a wake up! Wake the fuck up! The current “way things are” is in fact, LOOK AROUND PEOPLE: harmful, damaging, threatening, suicidal toward actual life. Many of the habit patterns founding western civilization are not encouraging the furtherance of life and are downright discouraging to the empowerment of people, the protection and prevalence of wildlife and clean air, water and healthy soils. I am continually surprised that we haven’t gotten this as a culture and remain seemingly unable to take beneficial action toward shifting these norms.
So, yes, I get the challenge of creative problem-solving in the face of a problem so large it’s as easy as breathing to participate. So innocuous, so prevalent it’s hard to see. I get that to face and shift norms is like asking a creative idea to grow through that slab-like concrete of the mind and is nearly impossible. But it is possible. I have watched my own mind shape and shift over the past few years into a malleable belief-in-creativity-chamber. My creative muscles were nearly atrophied or at least ignored, and I have seen the instigation of Belief rise again in my system. I know that it is possible to make a mind-set dance and swerve. The unexpected is possible. Life’s beauty is confirmation of that. Our greatest honor while on this planet is to take place in the co-creation of this beauty that exists as Life.
We are not separate from this Life. We are not here watching it happen, as observers or consumers of some great play created by some people other than ourselves (though the media industry would have us believe this). We are Life. We are the creators of our realities.
And I don’t mean this in a New-Agey way at all.
Who opened that new shop in your town? Was it someone so much different than you with super human capacities? Who wrote the book on the best-sellers list? Someone so far removed from you that they are in another category? I posit that between all of us there is not so much difference in us beyond our choices. Our choices are the stuff of which we are made. Not our thoughts, but our actions. Too many people die filled with dreams. Too many people live lives of… how does it go? Quiet desperation. To hell with that! If you don’t believe in your dreams, who will? If you don’t believe in your one crazy idea, who will? Is your job to sit back and criticize the actors on our world-stage? Is something inherently different in you that makes you an observer or consumer instead of a co-creator or conspirator in the “way things are”?
This is a call to arms, a call to action. A call to hands… in the garden, on alternative-fuel engines, on pieces of artwork & handy crafts, writings of inspiration, healthy foods for our families, the list goes on. This is a calling forth of the creative piece of your soul that may be numbed or dormant, but is in no way gone.
This is a calling forth of your imagination, that piece of you that served you so well throughout childhood and then fell away as deadlines took its place. We cannot suffer a field of players too concerned with passionless things and to-dos.
This is a call to arms, hands, feet, hearts. Cultivate your creative nature every day. Believe in impossible ideas. If you have impossible ideas, they are within you for a reason. You think only other people can act on their ideas? Are other people more deserving dreamers than you?
Did someone rob you of your divine right to co-create this reality we are all a part of?
If so, it is time to re-establish divine creatorship as a birthright. No matter poor, middle-class, upper-class or somewhere inbetween or off-the-chart), we were each perhaps faced with voices discouraging us from living our dreams. Monetary security is only one cat-call from “the way things are” away from our dreaming selves. This “way things are” is continually re-instituted by people who don’t even realize they are refurbishing a “way things are.”
It’s time to recreate a “way things are” – many “ways things are” – that are friendly to fish and fauna, all creatures here as friends. We are not innocuous bystanders passing time here. We are here to dream and land these dreams in our lives. This is our mission here.
Give me your hand, will ya?
Wren Haffner is a creative instigator and forest folk. Raised in a suburb of the Midwest, she intimately understands the homogeneity and practicality of the crossroads of America. However, having traveled extensively by bike, hitchhiking and more traditional methods, she has also witnessed some of the most inventive and original corners of our human community. Intuitive, frisky, always learning and with an eye for quality and the good things in life, Wren delights in sharing inspiring and passionate words from her soul. Find her other writings and images at Rainbow Bridge to the Heart.