Ramble: On Inspiration, Creativity, and the Lack Thereof

He stood in front of the Untempered Schism. It’s a gap in the fabric of reality through which could be seen the whole of the vortex. We stand there, eight years old, staring at the raw power of time and space, just a child. Some would be inspired. Some would run away. And some would go mad. – The Doctor (David Tennant); “Doctor Who: The Sound of Drums”, 2007

Since 2005, I have had a very deep fondness for Doctor Who, both the revival/current running series and the classic stories from the childhoods of those who’ve come before me. But every Whovian has that one line, that one special monologue or quote or scene that really touched them in a meaningful way. For many it’s the First Doctor’s farewell speech to his granddaughter Susan when he leaves her to find a new life and to settle down with a man she has come to love. For others, it’s the Fourth Doctor’s statements following his refusal to prevent the creation of the Daleks, questioning whether or not he made the right decision but also certain that without the Daleks many races who came together to fight them would otherwise be fighting one another. And need I even bring up the various speeches given by the Sixth Doctor during “Trial of a Time Lord“?

For me, it has been, since it’s first utterance on screens across the globe, the quote above. It really hit me right in my feels, and evoked a very powerful emotional response in me. I know everyone has their own interpretations of, well, anything and everything really. Even reality. So just because I’m about to go on a long diatribe about mine, it doesn’t mean your interpretation is any more wrong or right than my own.

That segment of dialogue inspired me in a point in my life that was still… dark. It was looking up. I’d gotten a job that year that I loved dearly. I made friends in college, I was doing well in school. But emotionally I was a train wreck. Problems at home caused me to become very withdrawn from my family and I spent more and more time losing myself in my fantasy worlds – be it through writing or artwork, movies and video games. But, as was always the case – Doctor Who was the thing that started to get through to me. At the time, I saw it as “It’s okay to be scared out of your mind. No one knows what the future holds, and even if you were staring it down it could always change tomorrow. Nothing is set in stone. You can let yourself go crazy worrying about it, be inspired to change it, or keep running away in fear of it.” And at the time I was so sure that is what it meant. It gave me hope and reassurance in a really crazy time in my life.

Years later, as I’m periodically putting the series on for background noise as I clean, write, knit, cook, ecetera, I hear it and feel… something else entirely. Now I read those words and I am reminded of all the wonder of childhood. The wild imaginations and dreams and hopes and… and then… the drudgery of life and growing up. And losing that sense of childish wonder we come into the world with. Eight years old is around the time kids in school start getting reigned in. And over the following decade of their lives the creativity, the wonder, the imagination, the excitement is stripped away in order to “make them productive members of society”. To “prepare them for the real world”. No, it doesn’t make them productive. It doesn’t prepare them for the real world. It makes people apathetic. It makes them ignorant of their own potentials. Keeps them from aspiring to be more, to be better people, or to better the world around them. It makes them accept the mediocre and makes them wholly reliant on others to tell them what to think and how to feel. It teaches them that individuality is inherently wrong and that in order to succeed they must conform 100% to someone else’s ideals and morality rather than their own. It creates drones who’s sole purpose is to do as they are told, when they are told, how they are told, and that it is pointless to ever want to work towards something more, especially for the self. And many who manage to get through it all, and manage to build themselves up, twist the system to their own benefit, and shape others to their own brand of ideals and morality. It does not matter if you are left or right. Liberal or conservative. Blue. Red. Hell purple with pink polka dots and from Pluto. The fight to get to the top of the food chain twists us all in some way, and rather than seek out the better and the new for others as well, we turn it back to that which created and shaped us, feeding it to others. Stripping THEM of their uniqueness and shaping them to meet OUR standard. And so the cycle continues.

I could go further into a long political diatribe at this point, but I’ll save that for another time. Besides, I’m pretty sure ALL OF US are tired of EVERYTHING being made into a political statement at this point…

We NEED creative people. We NEED imagination. Creativity and imagination lead to hoped and dreams, which drive people to be inspired. I know it’s old hat at this point to use the “I bet everyone thought the first person to build a fire was crazy” example but let’s just imagine a world where say… toilet paper was never invented. It’s a pretty gross world and I’d bet you wouldn’t want to eat anything someone hands you, or, well anything that anyone else has even touched… guess it was a really great thing someone was inspired to take some paper and wipe their behind after going to the loo, isn’t it? Otherwise we might still be using hands, or worse – corn cobs (which apparently was a thing in rural America according to my maternal grandmother… so… that’s a thing that people actually used to do).

There’s more to it for me, but it’s getting rather late as I write this and I need to get some rest as I’m meant to be getting up at 6:30AM (it’s currently 12:30AM as I write this bit here) so I’ll save that for a part 2 or something.

But the point of this post is… we won’t be able to break the chains that restrain us, that strip us of our hopes and dreams, that hold us back from our creative natures and inspire us to do more, to be more – we won’t be able to end the cycle until we stop trying to force our ideologies on the next generation. Stop insisting that every weird, odd little quirk needs to be stopped and corrected. Stop forcing our own ideals and standards on them. Give them some structure, yes. Teach them fundamentals like right and wrong, manners, how to share and be kind to others, definitely. But also we must encourage them to learn. To explore. Imagine. Play. Build. Draw. Sing. Dance. Read. The more we feed their creativity, the more we feed their imaginations, the more they will dream. The more they will hope. The more they will be inspired to do great and wondrous things. We used to be like them – collectively as a human race we’ve done so many great things. Some of us looked at the moon and wondered “what’s it like up there?” And others stood there and looked out further still and wondered “what’s out there?” – Without the dreamers, we’ve seen a generation where the space program has been stripped to it’s bare minimum. Where people obsess over what some reality show bimbo said about some other reality show bimbo’s husband. We’ve seen an entire generation of young people enter the “real world” with nearly all of their wonder and drive stripped from them at an early age, to “prepare them” for the big bad “real world”… and I hate to say it but all that preparation has failed, leaving an entire generation where going five minutes without checking Twitter can lead to severe panic attacks or worse – destruction of property and assault.

So please, PLEASE we as just people need to change this. My generation is pretty much a lost cause if today’s social climate is anything to go by. But the next one, and the one after that? They are all waiting to be tempered. Do we continue to strip them of everything that can help bring change for themselves and for their peers? Or will we instead inspire them to do better, to be better than we ever could be?

Okay, now I’m done for tonight. Nearly half an hour after my last time stamp (it’s now 12:56AM).

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2 responses to “Ramble: On Inspiration, Creativity, and the Lack Thereof

  1. I can remember in an interview once arguing vehemently that it was imperative we taught children to be creative, encouraged them to think differently to question, to challenge as without art, music, dance etc we would have no creators, inventors and so on in the future, that a world populated by mathematicians and engineers would be a dull world indeed. Of course being in an interview I argued more coherently than that ….I hope….but maybe not as I didn’t get the job lol. P.S. I also love Dr Who in all its incarnations 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • High Five for Doctor Who fans!

      But seriously – I count myself lucky to have been in just the right part of my generation where we were still encouraged in elementary and primary school to be creative and just enjoy being a kid, and as I grew older it just kinda fizzled out into a world of nothing but high stress testing and memorization. My little sister and I were born 5 years apart, and by the time she was in 1st grade she was already having to memorize information for standardized testing rather than learning the fundamentals of language, spelling, adding and subtracting. By the time she was in 6th grade, she’d already given up. When just five years prior, schools were still treating children as children rather than a method for which the school receives funding.

      By the time she graduated high school her and many like her were already apathetic and their outlooks on life were “Wow, I really hope I can get that job as a bagger at Publix because that’s the best i’ll ever get.” – And that’s, to me, just so wrong. I’d rather be in a dull world of mathematicians and engineers than in a world where people are actively discouraged from real learning.

      Like

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