Once upon a time you and I created with joyful abandon. We drew pictures, made mud pies, and invented songs because doing so made us happy. We got messy, we let our imaginations fly, and we were unashamed to share the results with others.
Unfortunately, somewhere in the intervening years most of us have lost both our joy in the creative process and the generous spirit with which our five-year-old selves shared our creations with others.
We have become stingy with our “art”.
And our world is the poorer for it.
My grandmother was generous with her art. She sent cards decorated with her sketches, sewed gifts for family or church bazaars, planted flowerbeds in the town square. She added a touch of beauty wherever she could, from an artfully arranged vase of wildflowers to a terrarium created with a curious grandchild.
Her family and her neighbors were the richer for her efforts.
Our world needs people like Grandma, who share their creative talents freely, because so many of us are afraid to share our art. We know our creative efforts are less than perfect, and so we are reluctant to expose them to the world, lest we be ridiculed.
Unfortunately, when we are stingy with our creative efforts, everybody loses.
Stinginess stifles growth
Those who are stingy with their art may avoid criticism, but they will never overcome their current limitations. A generous artist shares his handiwork with others, knowing he will receive both encouragement and criticism. The encouragement keeps him going, while constructive feedback enables him to improve his craft.
Stinginess steals our joy
Your inner critic may whisper that time spent doodling in sketchbooks or puttering in the basement is wasted. Do not listen! Before we can be generous with others, we must be generous with ourselves. When we are stingy with the time and energy we set aside for creative pursuits we stifle our creative potential and steal the moments that might have brought great contentment. One of the traits common among the world’s great artists was their prolific output. Much of it was not their best work, but they understood that the only way to reach greatness was to give themselves permission to create imperfect art. Lots and lots of it.
Time spent creating is not wasted, rather it is an investment in a healthier and more productive you.
Stinginess robs the world of beauty
Think of all those whose art has enriched your life, from your kindergartener’s handmade Valentine to the crafter who made the spring-themed wreath hanging on you door.
Think of all the people who might benefit from your art–whether it be a pie baked for a neighbor (pie crust is an art, you know) or a silly doodle for a grandchild to color.
Are you stingy or generous?
I want to be like my grandmother, always generous with my creative efforts—even the less than perfect ones. How about you?
Will you dare to be generous with your art, or will you play it safe and remain stingy?