Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Muse

There’s been a persistent little voice in my head lately whispering, “Write a blog, DM! Write a blog!”  Several times of late I’ve sat down in front of a blank screen on my computer, just waiting for The Muse. The Muse did not come. I think this is why Hemingway drank so much rum. And then yesterday, my lovely cousin Beth said, “Have you blogged in a while?” I confessed that it had been quite some time since I’d written a blog. My conversation with Beth got my wheels spinning, but we were at Wrigley Field on a family adventure, so I just ate peanuts, drank beer, and sang, “Go, Cubs, Go!”

This morning, as I was lying in bed, The Muse said, “I’m ready!” So I quickly got dressed, grabbed my laptop, and ran over to the Heartland Café for a delicious vegan breakfast and copious amounts of coffee and I began to write.

I spent a lot of time explaining The Muse to my campers at my various arts camps this summer. Often Inspiration makes us wait until she’s ready. In our Google-driven society where we possess immediate answers at our fingertips, we no longer cultivate patience and artistic thought. Kids are often derailed by waiting for Inspiration. “I don’t know what to draw, what to paint, what to build,” they’d lament, fear and frustration in their eyes. “Doodle,” I’d say, “or write, or smoosh clay in your hands. The Muse will come. You just have to encourage her with Play.”

 Kids are no longer encouraged to think creatively. The education system, as it were, has taken away art and music and physical activity – what I like to call Fun Disguised as Pedagogy – and turned today’s students into rote-learning, test-taking, fact-spewing robot people. They don’t learn how to think; they learn how to regurgitate. And even toddlers know how to use a smart phone or a tablet, but take the screens away and kids are lost! “Scissors?? Paint?? Mod Podge?? I don’t get it!!” There’s also no grey area, no room for interpretation. “Is this right?” The children ask repeatedly, desperation in their eyes. I respond brightly, “This is art camp. It’s very difficult to be wrong here.”

We’re all born artists. Be it music or sculpting or painting or sewing or gardening or cooking or acting or writing, we’ve all got it. Music also teaches math. Visual art can teach chemistry. Performing art teaches physiology and kinetics. All of these endeavorsa teach history and geography. Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” We need to encourage our intelligence to have fun. We need the music, the art, the theatre, the beauty to tap different parts of our brains. Einstein played violin and developed the theory of relativity. Einstein did not take standardized tests. Let’s all – every one of us – let our intelligence have fun. And if we have young people in our lives, let’s encourage them to let their intelligence have fun too.

Those are my thoughts this week. Please join us for Stitch ‘n’ Bitch this Thursday from 7:00-9:00 at R Public House, 1508 W. Jarvis. Also mark your calendars for the Tipsy Craft Circus, a Neighborhood Craft Market, on Saturday, September 19, from noon-5:00, also at R Public House. Until next time, Peace, Love, and Yarn!

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