Rediscovering Childhood Ben

My daughter, who turns 5 in about two months time, is currently obsessed with all things craft related. Her latest project is a pirate’s head made from a cardboard box, complete with pasta hair and white rice for the beard. Give her some glue, some carbohydrates and an old cereal box and she’s occupied for hours. I love it. She gets me involved as well, though mainly in a supervisory role as she gets a bit finicky with my admittedly suspect colouring skills. I go over the lines, she complains. Hmm. Everyone’s a critic.

The joy she gets from indulging her creative side is not only great to see but quite possibly contagious. I have been writing for quite some time now, in a part-time capacity for many years when I could “find the time” and when live’s usual demands dissipated long enough for me to sit down and get the juices flowing, so to speak. I always viewed it as a hobby and nothing more; something to escape from the pressures of the day to day grind and express myself artistically.

So I did. And I loved it. I still love it. Then I thought about my actual job, the thing that takes so much of my time and provides me with enough stress and anxiety to have developed a genuine hatred for the office environment and associated political machinations.

My job does not have anything to do with writing in any way. I guess you could say it is the opposite of writing, whatever that means. I don’t like it. I don’t know that I ever have. So why do I do it, I hear you ask? Good question.

It pays the bills.

It’s just what you do, isn’t it?

Things cost money.  

I get no satisfaction from my job. Zero. Zilch. I am one of those sighing malcontents you see picking his nose in the car next to you on your daily commute. I have become a corporate robot, the exact opposite of what I wanted to be when I was growing up.

Which brings me to what I guess would be the point of this particular entry: what happened on the way from me being a relatively content child to a miserable adult?

When I was younger, I was encouraged to explore my creative side. I painted, I drew, I played music. My parents and teachers nurtured this artistic side and praised my work. And I thrived. I was content.

Then high school happened. My guitar lessons were dismissed as something for stoner burnouts and the short films I made in media class were viewed as a cute little hobby. I was told to focus more on subjects like maths and science more, as these are the areas where I will find employment when I am older.

I’m reminded of a quote from Pablo Picasso:

Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.

I will continue to encourage my daughter to explore her artistic side for as long as she finds joy in it, and I will work as hard as I can to rediscover that sense of abandon in my future endeavours.