My mom is a miracle worker in the kitchen.
I have literally decades of memories of watching her stand over a busy stove, one eye on her equally busy oven, as she stirs and mixes and mashes and rotates and flips and turns and somehow produces a four-course meal, all while exclaiming “how easy it is.”
It’s not easy.
I once rendered an apartment temporarily unlivable when I put brussels sprouts in a pot on the stove to steam…all that was missing was the water.
In the kitchen, I’m absent-minded, inattentive, outright forgetful and sometimes a danger to myself and others. So I do the right thing and stay out of the kitchen.
But my mom doesn’t think her kitchen skills are creativity. For as many delicious recipes we have scarfed down right under her nose, she will as readily demur, “I’m not a creative cook. I just follow the recipe.”
I am actually tempted to cook for her one day just to prove her wrong.
It seems worth mentioning that it is my 49th birthday today. On this day, 49 years ago, I popped out of my mom and into this round blue world, where I have lived ever since.
Birthdays are always a time of reflection for me. Where have I come from? Where am I now? Where do I want to go? Who was I? Who am I today? Who do I want to be? It can be a melancholy day, some years…at least until someone says the magic words – “The birthday cake is served!”
But this year, I have chosen to celebrate myself because I am still here.
I have survived lots of things, big things and small things, and I am hanging in there, giving life a daily go, mustering up the courage and creativity to work around whatever outer (or inner) obstacles present themselves from one day to the next, surviving and maintaining hopes of one day thriving in all ways a living being is able to thrive.
It is a big goal – a big ask.
For starters, it first requires admitting I am a fundamentally creative being and that creativity itself is a survival skill.
It takes creativity to notice the slobbering saber-tooth tiger hiding behind that tree over there and figure out how to not become lunch.
It takes creativity to realize you have an eating disorder, anxiety, depression (or anything else, really) that is killing you from within and still somehow slip from its grasp and save yourself at the last possible second.
It takes creativity to rise from the ashes of yet another failed enterprise and keep dreaming, keep striving, keep supporting yourself to live while there is living to be had.
And truthfully, it takes creativity to notice that creativity keeps saving your ass, time and time and time and time again.
To me, this is survival of the fittest on a whole different, bigger, prefrontal cortex level.
It is also an ongoing invitation to perceive and celebrate the creativity in every life form around me and support them to notice and enjoy the same.
Reason being, I have never been one who wants to have something when someone else doesn’t.
For example, when I was partnered, I often felt guilty for having a partner when I was keeping company with a single friend who wanted a partner. I just want everyone to have what they want, to be happy. I don’t want to be jealous (although I often am) when someone else has something I want. I want to see my future in their present, recognizing that their creativity in achieving a desirable goal is also something I can do – after all, I am a creative person too.
I can figure it out. I have that same survival skill. I too can crank and tap into my inner well of creativity to figure out how to survive and then to thrive.
Maybe someday I will even have it figured out enough to pass it on.
My mom is creative. I am creative.
You are too.
With great respect and love,