Fly Like a Fish
The aesthetic and creative driven social media world we live in puts so much pressure on us, the players in this digital pantomime, to excel at every skill required to succeed. Be creative. Make content that’s original, expressive, beautiful, groundbreaking, thought provoking, funny. Maybe you should invent something marvellous. Or write something breathtaking. Sing something that makes us cry, or build something stunning. Wait…you can’t do any of this. It’s probably because you haven’t tried hard enough, but follow this system, practice these skills, buy my book and you can do anything with time, practice and by attending my series of seminars.
We’ve seen a rise in a certain type of creative and motivational speaker. They delineate and teach the creative process to a hungry audience. They outline steps for increasing your creativity like come up with 5 new ideas everyday, meditate on the impossible fro 40 minutes before breakfast or create a weekly mind map on your vision board. In reality these create a facade of creativity. A paint by number approach, a thin mirage of real ability. These practices increase your creativity in the same way that wearing tall shoes increase your height. At first glance it looks like the real thing, but look at a little closer and see the illusion. The snake-oil-salesmen tells you that you can achieve anything, if you put your mind to it. A toxic, profitable and irresponsible claim.
This is the pressure of creativity and ability attainment. Anyone can learn a skill given enough time and practice, but without a natural gift in that area there is a very definite ceiling. The problem isn’t with finding that ceiling, but more the external and internal derision for not pushing through it, an almost impossible task.
I am laughably bad at maths, I have the rhythm of a drunk sloth, and my sense of smell is woefully under developed. I find pleasure doing simple maths puzzles, I love playing guitar, and I enjoy wine tasting. However, I hire an accountant to do my taxes, have no designs on being in a band or starting a new career as a sommelier.
The point is this. Try new things. Experiment with your hobbies and learn new skills. But never punish yourself, or let others judge you for not having natural abilities. You can enjoy, assess and appreciate something without having a mastery of the thing itself. Find something that brings you joy and you have an innate ability in, and develop that. Anything else, you can always enlist the help of someone who has that skill.
A flying fish can fly over the top of the waves, a remarkable feat, and never once do we criticise it because it can’t climb trees.
by Oban Jones