Influenced Concepts

Influenced Concepts

…the first step in creativity is not focusing on goals but letting go of them. Being open and aimless. Forgetting preconceived notions.

Jill Jepson

Are any of my ideas original thought? Or have I been deluding myself?

Some time ago, I was receiving Jill Jepson’s newsletter in my email inbox twice a month. I unsubscribed from her letters after a while because I was so busy trying to make some sort of progress on my WiP. Her emails were still valid for where I was in my writing, but the time with so many emails had to stop.

Anyway, I have a list of possible blog post topics that sit in one of my notebooks in my OneNote app. I add to it as I see potential phrases and sentences that spark topic ideas for me. When I came across this one written by Jill, I thought maybe getting back to the simplest of basics might be good.

Jill’s lines got me reflecting about times when I let my mind wander randomly. It was difficult to find those old times at first. So much of what I do is planned, deliberate, intentional, methodical. If I do this one thing, then such and such will be next. So much of my everyday life is like this. It’s rare for me to follow the flight of a fleeting thought. Most of my life is far from being original.

Long ago I used to play the flute. It took four years of doing exactly what the teacher told me to do before I let my imagination have a say in what I played. With the flute, I did forget about those preconceived notions and aimlessly made up melodies once I was done with my hour of rigid practice. It was also back then that I wrote stories, letting my young imagination take me wherever it felt like going at that particular moment.

Yes, there was a time when I was utterly and completely creative.

Then life got in the way as it has the bad habit of doing. Jill’s email got me questioning whether I could bring all that originality back or had I lost it forever.

Of course, that question lead to other ones like is writing the right path for me. I can’t play the flute anymore. Still, writing isn’t my only option. I’ve done needlepoint, Native American crafts, web graphics, and even dabbled in painting. Did I choose the right craft to pursue seriously?

I know that one of the reasons I chose writing is that it’s so extremely accessible to me. I didn’t have to buy a thing to get started either. Everything needed was already with me.

Those other options would require me finding stores where I could buy the supplies. There aren’t any art craft supply stores in this town. Even if there were, how was I suppose to get to them and what would I use for money?

Now, accessibility wasn’t the only reason for taking up writing. I’m so much more comfortable writing than I am talking. I think it’s because I can change what I say before anyone sees it. The chances of me being misunderstood are much less.

Jill also mentioned goals as something that might squash the creative pulse. Yes, I most certainly agree. I have a nasty habit of letting my thoughts jump to the end of what I’m trying to do. Often, it’s just for a transit moment but it still stops me from having my attention solely on what I’m doing at the time.

Goal watching can definitely ruin creative flow. This makes me wonder why personal coaches keep stressing the aspect of looking at goals, keep an eye on the big picture, and keep on shooting for what’s in the future. How can anyone get anything done that way? Or does it just put money into the coach’s pocket?

Are your ideas and dreams influenced, or are they more of the created kind?

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ― Martha Graham

 

That First Year After

This is kind of a continuation of the series, It Was My Little Black Cloud. However, because any of my posts about my life as an adult is influenced by the disability, I’ll start moving away from the these challenges as a focal point and tell you about the actual events that have been so colorful.

 

That First Year After
Image provided by
Parker Knight @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/rocketboom/

Being physically and slightly mentally disabled at the ripe old age of eighteen is not fun. You can bank on it. Strokes are awful no matter what your age. It’s just that at eighteen, a person is just starting to experience things, were as when you’re older, you have some idea of what life is about. Believe it or not, anymore there are many young people who have had a stroke.

My physical challenges consisted (still do) of having the sensation of feeling everything through a thick wool sock on the right side of my body from my toes up to the top of my head. This meant that I was never sure where anything was on my body on that side. Was I moving my arm at all? I didn’t know until I actually looked at it. Is that pan on the stove hot? Maybe I should check to see were my arm and/or hand is. Oh my gosh! Yes, the pan is hot. I burned my hand — see the red burning flesh.

My slight mental disabilities were harder to deal with. Although the medical team said my emotions would settle down, I felt like I had a severe case of Bipolar Syndrome. Either I didn’t care what was happening and would get engrossed in sitcoms on TV or I’d be a bucket of continuous tears. Neighbors could hear me ranting about some of the most trivial stuff, and I do mean stuff as in not being worth anything.

My cognitive skills, which effected my ability to write had been severely damages. This is what bothered me the most. I couldn’t remember anything for more than about two minutes at first, at least nothing that I thought I should remember anyway. I couldn’t even remember how to write the word ‘was’. When my writing buddy reads this, I can assure you that she’ll be shocked because now I can’t seem to get away from the damn word when I write. I remember sitting with a pencil in my hand and a clean sheet of paper in from of me, crying because I was trying to remember how to spell this stupid word for over an hour. I couldn’t even look it up in the dictionary because I couldn’t figure out the letter it even started with.

Of course, there were other things I was forgetting too. I had forgotten all the telephone numbers that I used to know by heart. I forgot my friends’ names. I could get lost so easily in a store that I had been in dozens of times before. Getting lost to the point where you don’t even know if you’re in a city you’re familiar with and also in a store that looks foreign can be mighty scary.

At first, the only three places where I felt completely at ease were the living room, my bedroom, and the bathroom. Most of that year was a blurry in spite of the fact that I did take a quarter of college part-time. I took classes I loved in high school, or at least the closest thing to those classes. I couldn’t play the flute anymore seeing that nothing worked the way it should on the right side, so I took the History of Music class. I took the 101 creative writing class, which gave my brain a boost so that I could remember how to write words. And I took 101 typing. The instructor found a text book on typing with one hand. It was the most useful class I had.

I know disability is hard to live with no matter where you are in your struggle with it. The world looks so different from the perspectives I have available to me now as opposed to the ones I used to have before that night when everything changed. I’m sure the level of difference is the same for all others who face these challenges.

Do you have a story to tell me?

 

Personal Dystopia

Personal Dystopia
Image provided by
martinak15 @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/martinaphotography/

After writing posts about the drastic change that began to happen in my life at the age of 17, I’ve decided to write a post that’s philosophical in nature. Going from an overactive teenager to a crippled one who appeared to have nothing in her future but sorrow is devastating.
You did catch that word, appeared, didn’t you?

First, I needed to look up the word, dystopia. Obviously it was bound to mean something than the perfect society, utopia.

Dystopia: an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives

From the outside looking in on my circumstances, it seemed as though I would be powerless, helpless, trapped, and without any hope for the rest of my life. And there were many times during the first few years when I felt that way. Often I would tell people that I became dependent on Independence Day. Yet, somehow those feeling have never lasted very long.

The one thing I almost always feel negative about myself is the same thing that I’ve been fighting since I was a little kid. It has absolutely nothing to do with the disability I acquired. Somehow, without any effort, I’ve been able to separate my disability from who and what I am.

At first, I was able to battle these negative feels with a little help from the loved ones around me. I’d fall because of lack of balance, drop something because I didn’t have the right grip in the one and only hand that works, or I wouldn’t be able to spell a simple word I used to write out all the time before that terrible day. My mom, my brother, or Courtney who lived in back of us would tell me with certainty in his or her voice that I could do it. “Just try again.” “Take your time and work on it.”

I eventually learned to tell myself to remember how I had to do the same things to learn how to ride a bike, swim, and play the flute.

I know a few people through blogs here on the Internet who combat with depression. Because of what I’ve been through, I do believe I understand the powerless, helpless, trapped, hopeless feels they have. Dear fellow bloggers, I could try to tell you how to gain what you think you don’t have, but from what I have learned thus far, you can only learn it for yourself. Opening up the memories is difficult to say the least, but that is exactly where you’re going to find what you feel you’re missing, where you’re going to find your strength.

Something else I’ve learned along the way is how to look at life as a whole. In our world, I think many put their lives in tiny little blocks trying to separate everything and then getting frustrated and depressed when it’s impossible to do that. I’ve gotten rid of all the blocks of my life and now consider my life one big huge mess that can have many wonderful, happy and sad parts that always mingle with each other. I don’t try so hard to figure out my life.

I just live it now.

All City Band

Image provided by Jim Larrison @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/larrison/
Image provided by
Jim Larrison @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/larrison/

Times have changed so much since my school days. I know that this is normal, of course, but there are some things from the past that, to this day, I don’t think should have been changed. One of these things is cultural and art events for the kids that went beyond the confines of they own schools. The sport events have continued to make it past the individual school districts, but not the other events that play a big part in shaping the lives of children.

I’ve never been athletic. When there was Field Day at my elementary school, I was always one of the last to finish a race and one of the worse softball and kickball players. Nonetheless, I was out there trying. What I did success at was music, which I’m sure you’re slightly aware of by now. If not, just click in the Categories in the sidebar to find other posts about my love of music.

I had taking private flute lessons from Mr. Gary for approximately a year when I hit the sixth grade. Because being a private instructor didn’t pay very much, he was also a substitute music teacher for all of the school in the metropolitan area. Naturally, because he was associated with the school administrations, he knew about all of the cultural and art events. One of these was the All City Band.

This program was divided by groups of ages. There was one for fourth, fifth and six graders; one for junior high kids; and one for high school students.

I was in sixth grade when I tried out for All City Band the first time. To qualify, I had to audition with a solo. Yes, I was a little frightened by this in spite of the fact that I had been in some recitals and had played solos for the church. In those other incidences, I was playing in front of people I already knew. The audition would be strangers.

I chose Beethoven’s piece, Flight of the Bumblebee. It would show how comfortable I was with the fingering of the flute, my ability to not only play fast but with clear tone and, hopefully, show that I could play in front of strangers. The strategy worked because I was in the All City Band that year, playing at the coliseum with other young musicians from all over the city. I auditioned for this program again when I was in eighth grade, earning sixth chair in the flute section.

It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that I tried out again for this band. This last time I played a piece by Claude Debussy. The music was serene, which meant I was taking a big risk with the audition. But I felt that I could show more about tempo and feeling, as well as crystal tone with the piece. I earned second chair in the flute section that year.

The conductor for my last year in the program was the chief music director at the University of Denver, Mr. Burns. I experienced pure joy playing under his direction. He was a musician of deep feelings and expression.

As the band played their last piece of the evening at a downtown theater, he definitely demonstrated his love for music. He was all decked out in a tuxedo with the tails and a crisp white ruffled shirt. He looked the part of the great conductor, which, in my opinion, he was. We were playing the music, The Pines of the Appian Way, also know as The Pines of Rome. It starts very quiet. Soon the volume grows and the percussion and the big brass sections join in. As we played, Mr. Burns’ hair got ruffled. Then he unbuttoned his coat. By the time the brass had played a couple of bars, he was taking off the coat and laid it on the platform. By the end of the piece, when all sections are playing their loudest and the timpani drums pounding away, Mr. Burns’ cuff links were off; his sleeves were rolled up and his hair was a disaster. Needless to say, we got a standing ovation.

 

I find it sad that music is rarely offered as a class in the schools anymore. It teaches diligence, cooperation, self-reliance, expansion of the mind, and the list goes on. Are kids learning anything in school that it going to prepare them for the valleys as well as the mountains in life? From what I’ve observed, I’m seeing very little that is going to help them.

 

School's Out for Summer

School's Out for Summer
Image provided by
Sharon Mollerus @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/clairity/

Do you remember the song? Alice Cooper was eccentric beyond belief at times but I still remember how I, with all the other teenagers, loved the exhilarated idea of the song. Even though I loved learning through the school year, as a teenager, I also loved the summers.

Swimming was a sport I didn’t find so impossible like many of the others. I had my first lessons when I was a mere five years old and continued to take swimming lessons, although not every year. I never got to where I could dive off the high board, but had no problems jumping in from that height. I did learn how to dive off the low board, both standing forward and backward. I took the swimming classes in high school and even accomplished the art of synchronized swimming (also known as water ballet).

With all I had learned, you’d probably think I’d be involved in swimming classes during my summers when I was a teenager. You’d be dead wrong though. I was at Mamie G. Eisenhower Park splashing and dunking other teenagers that were in the outside pool or sitting under an old elm tree just outside the fence of that pool.

Summertime at this park was special. I honestly felt carefree and loved — maybe just liked — for who I really was. I don’t think there was anyone in the group who felt they had to appear to be someone other than himself or herself. Tell me, how often does this happen?

When I could, I’d bring either my flute or guitar with me. There were four other teenagers there who played instruments: guitar for three of them, and percussion for the fourth. We’d sit under that elm tree and jam most of the afternoon.

There were days when we wouldn’t even be in the pool because we’d be floating down the Skyline canal that went along the side of the park. I’d get into the water that only came up to mid-thigh, put my legs out in front of me to float on my back, and away I’d go down the waterway to the other end of the park. To stop just meant putting my feet down. I’d get out of the water and saunter back up to where I had started so that I could do it all over again.

I can’t say we were always good. After all, we were teenagers, at least most of us were. There were two who were a little too young to be considered teens yet and one was my brother. One of the guys was nineteen, which meant he was old enough to buy 3.2 beer. All of us would chip in money and he would go buy the stuff. I really wasn’t a beer fan, neither was my brother. Nevertheless, we took sips just to see if you liked it each time. I never did. My brother, on the other hand, became a connoisseur of beer in his twenties.

We were just bad enough to also smoke marijuana when it was available. What can I say? It was the late 1960s and early 1970s, and I was a “normal” teenager. The dries form of the plant was everywhere. To tell you the truth, I liked it much better than the beer. I was more apt to know what my limits were and I wasn’t constantly looking for a bathroom.

 

I wonder if so of the magic I felt then was because of the era: hippies, make love not war, flower power, etcetera. Many of the beliefs and ideas I had then I still keep today. Was that era a turning point in history? I think for some it was. For others, it was just a walkway to the corporate 1980s.

Of course, through the many years, I’ve lost touch with all of those I felt so close to during those few summers. I feel some sadness over it, but also realize that life is ever-changing and we can’t halt it either.

 

I know many people have such an awful time getting through their teenage years. Mine weren’t all fun and smiles either, but I know I was lucky to have so many good times back then. Others were having such a difficult time waiting for those years to pass. I was always content to be the age I was and still feel the same way today.