“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” -Shunryu Suzuki
Would you believe me if I told you that you’re a wildly creative person? That it doesn’t matter if you’ve never picked up a paintbrush, written a verse, or played a song. Just like breathing, creativity is a quality inherent to being human.
I get it. You just don’t feel creative, or maybe you know it’s there, but you feel blocked. I understand because I didn’t think I had a creative bone in my body for the first 31 years of my life. It wasn’t until I realized I was waging an unconscious war on my creative self that was as able to get in touch with my own unique creative genius.
The problem is perfect. Perfect is narrow; it’s stagnant. Perfect keeps us playing small. Perfect stalls us in our skin, preventing us from engaging in something that might expose us to others as not being, well, perfect. Perfect hijacks our ability to appreciate the present moment as we continually strive to be something we aren’t.
Perfection – while a constant on the glossy pages of magazines – is actually an illusion. Nothing in the natural world is perfect; a snowflake isn’t perfectly symmetrical, a tree doesn’t grow perfectly straight, and human beings aren’t perfect either.
Whether we are conscious of it or not, seeking approval and acceptance from others is an unavoidable side effect of our competition-centric society. While many wax about the benefits of competition creating innovation and moving society forward, the idea that we will be judged for our creations is potent enough to stop many of us from pursuing that one thing that will deliver us the most joy.
For years I had no idea I was trapped in the perfection performance of life – making my choices based on what others would think of me. I felt apathetic about engaging in creative pursuits, telling myself I didn’t have time, or I’d get to it – one day. As I peeled back the layers of my unconsciousness, I came to understand that my fear stemmed from the illusion that only if I was perfect then I’d be worthy of approval, acceptance, and ultimately love and joy.
While in theory it sounds great to pop a pill and suddenly be an expert at guitar or be fluent in another language overnight, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Life is messy; it’s a process. When we forgo the process, we squander opportunities for vulnerability and authenticity – the very qualities that allow us to develop genuine self worth, self-love, and joy.
However, there is a way to reverse this war you’re waging on your creative self. It’s so very simple you might want to brush it aside with thoughts of jamming on a guitar around the campfire, or writing that story humming through your mind. But if you listen closely and take it to heart, you will unleash a powerful passion to create, and in turn create space to relish in the ever-elusive present moment.
All you need to do is: be the beginner. The beginner isn’t expected to know a damn thing, so the beginner never fails.
As children we were beginners in everything we did, and our creativity soared. Studies show that 5-year-old children operate with 80% of their creativity, but by the time they reach twelve, it decreases to 2%.
When I awakened to the reality that it was actually fear of failure masquerading as apathy, I gave myself permission to just be the beginner and create. What started with writing took on the form of a snowball quickly gaining momentum on a steep mountain, and soon I found myself enthused to learn guitar, write music, and sing. Letting go of perfect inspired me to build an art studio in my home for painting and begin jazz dance classes. Most of all letting go of perfect has allowed me to grow into the woman I sensed was hiding deep inside of me; the woman I was quietly destroying with my fear of not being perfect enough.
Be. The. Beginner. And watch the passion create infuse your life with inspiration and joy!