Thursday, August 11, 2011

"The cocoon of middle age habit"

I'm still thinking about the reactions I got last night 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. 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)

2 comments:

  1. Important post Mr. Shames. There was a time when if you DIDN'T possess a demonstrative, creative ability ie singing, dancing, writing poetry, playing the piano; you were nothing more than the village idiot. Even lowly peasants were able to spin fantastic yarns.

    Now it's all about staring blankly into electronic screens, tuning all others out.

    I appreciate these kinds of post because it's one of the few times when I feel I am understood and not alone.

    stay great.

    -L. Ball

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  2. RUSH partially explains what happened to a generation of people so poetically in these song lyrics.

    -----
    Sprawling on the fringes of the city
    In geometric order
    An insulated border
    In between the bright lights
    And the far unlit unknown

    Growing up it all seems so one-sided
    Opinions all provided
    The future pre-decided
    Detached and subdivided
    In the mass production zone

    Nowhere is the dreamer or the misfit so alone
    [ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/r/rush/subdivisions_20119867.html ]
    Subdivisions --
    In the high school halls
    In the shopping malls
    Conform or be cast out
    Subdivisions --
    In the basement bars
    In the backs of cars
    Be cool or be cast out
    Any escape might help to smooth
    The unattractive truth
    But the suburbs have no charms to soothe
    The restless dreams of youth

    Drawn like moths we drift into the city
    The timeless old attraction
    Cruising for the action
    Lit up like a firefly
    Just to feel the living night

    Some will sell their dreams for small desires
    Or lose the race to rats
    Get caught in ticking traps
    And start to dream of somewhere
    To relax their restless flight

    Somewhere out of a memory of lighted streets on quiet nights...
    ----
    C. Kaepernick

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