Sometimes I feel a small sadness in the people who come to my workshops: “Why can’t I be more creative?” I feel that myself when I’m around certain people who astound me by the range of their imagination. Given the opportunity in the workshop to “make something up” alone or in a group, people invariably rise to the challenge. So it’s clear that the creative impulse is not dead, just slumbering and needs a poke to wake it up. But how to keep it perpetually awake? How to make a habit of creation?
Children are endlessly creative, playing their way each day into the far corners of the imagination. What happened to us adults? Somewhere in the natural process of aging, we start to lock away our imaginative proclivities into some vault for safekeeping. We simply have other things on our mind— the pressing concerns of rent, jobs, mates, raising our imaginative darlings. While our kids are frolicking in their fantasy world, we’re doing their laundry and driving them to soccer. It’s understandable that we stop zooming our spoons in the air like airplanes, more inclined to polish them when the boss comes over to dinner.
But beyond these natural steps towards that sobering animal, “the real world,” the imagination can suffer from the assaults of a culture unmindful of or unfriendly toward its way of being in the world. Certainly in schools today, the locks on the vault are being fortified and the keys tucked away further from our reach. I often call Orff Schulwerk “The Pedagogy of the Imagination” and while it can do a fine job transmitting the nuts and bolts of the music craft, its deeper gift is to pick the lock on the vault and spring our imaginations free.
That’s as good an image as any of what we’re trying to do here— sneak past the security guards and throw open the doors wide. Or better yet— like that actual security guard in Savannah peeking into my class, get them to put down their weapons and join the class!
What did I do right to stumble into such marvelous work? Every day I count my blessings.