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Say Yes to the Mess

Posted on May 13, 2015 by in Art | 3 comments

The kids decided to get creative in the kitchen tonight. 

Ben chattered on excitedly about becoming world famous for his invention of “cutie juice” which involved the careful squeezing of each slice of cutie into a funnel-and-cup and then careful transfer of precious milliliters into four paper cups placed in the fridge for proper cooling.

Abby decided to bake a cake and I did my best to remain hands-off in order to let her learn.  We end up with a pretty decent strawberry cake with fresh berry sauce over the top. But by the end of the night, I felt sure Ben had squeezed all my energy into those little paper cups along with the cutie juice.

Later, all four gathered on the driveway with the neighbor kid to create a special stew that involved a lot of harvesting from our front landscaping. Bits of leaves, bark, mulch, and flowers were stirred in with a good amount of hose water.

Yes, it was a mess.

But I know this: creativity requires  that you embrace the mess.  To embrace what might be, you must be willing to break a few eggs, make a mistake, fling a little flour.  This is much harder than it even sounds, because it goes deeper emotionally.

To be willing to try anything new, you must be willing to fail.  Great courage goes into new endeavors because what if it is a flop?   It might be the best flop that ever happened to you.

You also have to tell yourself that while it looks like things are falling apart, really they are coming together in the most wonderful way when creating is happening.

Creativity demands flops and failures and first attempts, and it hands back the joy of creating–the thrill of the making.

I made this is a powerful incantation and the kids were heady with creation magic tonight, which is really a small but thrilling imitation game of the Creator.

In myself, I have to fight hard against the urge to pop their magic bubble. I fight hard not to counter their possibility with stone cold realities, when instead I should let them try, let them learn the blessing of a skinned knee, a burnt cake.  Abby was very surprised when I instructed her to wash her cake dishes.

I’m learning.  It’s slow.  I think I’m raising these kids, but I think they are raising me instead. I can’t go behind them in life washing all their dishes for them, lending them the illusion that cakes come without mess.  It would be equally tragic for me to say no to all the cakes to avoid all the messes.

Yes to the mess of life, yes to the learning, yes to the belly flops, and the awkwardness of first tries.

With this Dixie cup of cutie-juice, I salute all creative, messy endeavors everywhere.

Here’s to you.





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