“The cocoon of middle age habit”
August 16, 2011
I’m still thinking about the reactions I got last week at a networking event when I asked for folks who wanted to join in on an impromptu musical jam (There was a stage with sundry instruments ready to go–how could I resist?). Simple questions (“Do you play any musical instrument? Sing a little? Want to join us?”) were met with such revulsion, such instant “No Way”s and “You don’t want me to”s that you would have thought I was inviting them to commit a heinous crime.
Despite our amazing expansion of personal freedom and choices, I often wonder if the permission we give ourselves to experiment creatively has changed much in the past 100 years. How much permission do you give yourself to experiment with something you may not be that good at? Let me dip into the archive for a little 20th century inspiration still relevant today.
“A childlike man is not a man whose development has been arrested; on the contrary, he is a man who has given himself a chance of continuing to develop long after most adults have muffled themselves in the cocoon of middle age habit and convention.” ~Aldous Huxley
“This creative power should be kept alive in all people for all their lives. Why? Because it is life itself. It is the Spirit. In fact it is the only important thing about us. The rest of us is legs and stomach, materialistic cravings and fears.
How can we keep it alive? By using it, by letting it out, by giving some time to it. But if we are women we think it is more important to wipe noses and carry doilies than to write or two play the piano. And men spend their lives adding and subtracting and dictating letters when they secretly long to write sonnets and burst into tears at the sunset.
They do not know that this is a fearful sin against themselves. They would be much greater now, more full of light and power, if they had really written the sonnets and played the fiddle and wept over sunsets, as they wanted to.” ~Brenda Ueland, “If You Want to Write” (1938)
More from Adam? Check out his Innovation on my Mind blog.