Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fortuitous. Serendipitous. Providential.

I've been finishing up (read: starting) my final paper for my Credit for Prior Learning Class and have just gotten to the part where I'm going to talk about NaNoWriMo. I went to their site yesterday trying to find some sort of official record that I was a winner, so maybe that's why today I got the wrap-up email from Christ Baty (the founder of NaNo) for this year's event. Either way, a part of the email jumped out at me, really encapsulating what I wanted to say about my NaNo experience, and what I've been thinking about creativity in general. I'm going to quote it in my paper (not sure how I'll edit it yet), but I thought you'd enjoy it, too.

"Human beings...contain multitudes. Each of us has a wealth of talents spread broadly over domains both marketable and deliciously impractical. The tricky part is that we tend to develop the former at the expense of the latter. Passions become hobbies. Hobbies become something we swear we'll get back to when we have more time. Or when the kids are grown. Or when the stock market recovers.

Which means we leave unexplored many of those paths that ultimately make us feel most alive—the moments of creating, building, playing, and doing that lead to extraordinary and unexpected things.

Like writing a book.

Or, more loosely, postponing the must-dos of the real world to spend 30 days exploring an attractive, improbable dream.

Giving ourselves that time is so important. Because the world can wait. It's what the world does best, in fact. It was hanging out for 4.5 billion years before we arrived, and it'll be waiting around for another few billion after we're gone.

Our dreams, however, have much shorter shelf-lives.

If there's one thing I've learned from running NaNoWriMo, it's this: Whatever you think you are, you are more than that. You possess a fearsome array of skills and abilities, and the most satisfying of these may be completely unknown to you now. Your curiosity is a dependable guide; follow it. Put yourself in unfamiliar places. Kindle passions. Savor the raw joy of making things, and then remake the best of those things until they take someone's breath away. Wrestle bears.

Actually, skip the bear-wrestling.

But do keep trying big things, okay? Sometimes we can wait so long for a clear sign that it's time to begin, that the opportunity sails right past us.

Life is so short. Adventures beckon. Let's get packed and head out on a new one today."

Whoo! Amen, Baty!

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