A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire...
A Creative Desert
When he was three years old, my oldest son Nicholas wrote his first “book,” Sun Chases the Water. It still sits on my desk, one-purple-construction-paper-page long: a picture of a shark named Sun pursuing a fish called Water accompanied by text, which had been written out by my husband and me in our tiny barely legible handwriting, under the picture, along the sides.
Over the past ten years, the stories have not stopped. His brother and sister have joined Nicholas, and our house is littered with drafts and illustrations. Now there are songs too, banged out on the piano or strummed on the guitar, notes scribbled on staff paper. I tell my children they are artists. Their endless gush of creativity astounds me and leaves me jealous. Where does it all come from, the images and melodies? For while they have been producing, creating, I have been fighting silence.
When Sun Chases the Water first hit my desk, I was saddened: my child saw the sun as a relentless hunter. This confirmed my reservations about our recent move to Las Vegas. Should one raise children in this land of broken dreams, adult hijinks and scorching heat? Yet Nicholas seemed to understand the latter immediately, and it inspired him.
The same has not been true for me. Yes, I understand that the demands of motherhood and an outside job have created challenges for my creative life, but I have spent hours blaming my environment. I moan to all who will listen that I have not acclimated. With each year, the sun and heat trouble me more. In moments of heightened pessimism, I tell myself that wrangling with this landscape serves as a metaphor for my creative life. Trying to keep my lawn alive in the midsummer is an exercise in futility. All that effort, all that work, and I still have big brown patches and dead petunias whose dried out stalks and papery-thin petals beseech me.
One night this past August, my youngest and I took a walk (because during a Las Vegas summer, a walk is only possible at night). He stopped to point up at the stars. “I want to learn to paint mom,” he said, “so I can paint that.”
I was silenced. For perhaps—and forgive the hyperbole—the one-millionth time in my parenting life, I wondered how my child was able to feel the creative impulse in an environment that seemed to crush mine? But this time, something was different. After that night, I began to consider that one could develop a creative inner life here; in fact one must. Somehow, the Las Vegas landscape has inspired my children. Now I think I am ready to discover how it can do the same for me.
The shark chases the fish, but it does this so it can live. The sun pursues the water – a life-sustaining act perhaps?
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