If aliens used my roof as a landing pad to invade the earth and I was in my home office writing, there’s a good chance I would completely miss the whole blooming thing.
That’s because when I’m writing a book or directing a play I go to THE Place–MY Place, some call it “The Zone”, and it’s as if Father Time took a coffee break and then forgot to clock back in. It’s not like an out-of-body experience; it’s more like a FULL body experience. I feel more alive and full of energy than if I’d wolfed down a half-dozen power bars and a pot of coffee. I thought I was a little weird in this experience (maybe aliens really had landed and abducted me!) so I was relieved to find out last week that I’m not the only person on the planet that would miss E.T.’s second coming.
I was googling some news sites and stumbled upon a popular YouTube video by Sir Ken Robinson at the 2006 TED conference (www.ted.com), but I’m not going to give you the link to Mr. Robinson’s 20 minute presentation until AFTER you read this because if I tell you where it is now, you’ll go there, look at it, and I’ll never get you back here to finish what I wrote which is sort of the whole reason you’re here in the first place.
When you do watch the video, two things will happen to you–you’ll laugh your head off and you’ll get your mind blown. I was so wowed by the video that I went ahead and purchased Sir Robinson’s book, “The Element” in audiobook. I have already listened through it twice in the last week. It’s transformative. And it helped me to understand that EVERYONE has something that they were born to do. A gift, a talent, a thing. Something that when you are doing it, it’s like every planet in the solar system is in perfect alignment with YOU. Like every sound in the universe is in perfect harmony to a rhythm in your head. It is nothing short of amazing. What’s sad is that most people have never discovered this elemental place inside themselves and most people go their entire lives never having discovered it.
I Make No Money from This
First let me say that I am not trying to sell this book. I wouldn’t get a dime from it if you did buy it. I just loved it. It clicked with me on a sublime level and because I want my friends to experience this same thing–and now I believe that everyone can–I want them to. So, really, I’m not trying to sell anything. (But you would be smart to consider it.)
Did you know that nobody in Paul McCartney’s life recognized him as having ANY musical talent until after he’d started his own band? Yeah, that band. All the way through college nobody in John Cleese’s life noted that he had any kind of sense of humor. It took Bart Conner walking around the house on his hands for 10 years as a kid before anyone thought of getting him into gymnastics. “The Element” is loaded with dozens of stories of these same kinds of people, some of them well-known, most of them not. But all of them have found their THING that takes them regularly to their Place.
Teachers and Tribes
If you are one of the lucky ones who have discovered your “thing”, you probably had a mentor or a teacher, someone that set your feet on a path that led you to where you are today. If you haven’t found it, the best thing you can do is explore the world around you–go find your tribe. Go mountain climbing, enroll in a drama workshop, take a painting class, join a chess club, or take saxophone lessons. Go where you can be around people doing things you’ve never done before. You never know–you may find the lifelong ambition you didn’t even know you had.
Public Enemy = Public Education?
The scariest thing was Sir Robinson’s proposal that public education is crushing the creativity out of our children and ultimately our future. Does this surprise any of us who are parents or teachers or both? Not likely. We have to bear with our kids enduring the No Kids Left Behind wave that has hit US public education like a tsunami where Math is king, Science is chief, and Language the Lead into creating a competitive workforce for the future. Arts, it seems, has become a four-letter word.
But What Will People Say?
What about you? Have you found your Element, your thing. If you’re not sure, ask yourself this question: If left to my own devices, if I didn’t have to worry about making a living or what others thought about me, what am I the most drawn to doing? Too often we can be afraid to answer that question because we’re afraid to be wrong.
Mr. Robinson loves to say: “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” This stung me as I reluctantly admit I am a flagrant people-pleaser. I HATE being wrong about anything (yes, I know it’s my pride!). It can paralyze me unlike my husband who lets errors run off his back like water off a duck.
My kids on the other hand, aren’t afraid to be wrong. My autistic son actually thinks it’s a hoot to screw things up when he’s playing one of his Wii games. He keeps running those miniature monkeys off the ramps and laughs at them as they scream all the way down to the bottom of the cliff. It’s only as adults that we grow into our fears like a pair of uncomfortable shoes and limp through life thinking this is the way things are supposed to be. I guess, “we must become like little children” applies to more than just making it through the pearly gates.
On the Edge with My Hair on Fire
So, what were you born to do? What makes you feel “alive” when you do it? I know mine. I wish I could do it for a living. God willing that may happen someday. I just have to keep writing and you just have to keep reading my blogs, forwarding them to friends, and some day buy my published works.
So see, I told you, I’m really not trying to sell you anything. Not yet anyway.
You can pre-order your copy of Ken Robinson’s “The Element” from Amazon for $10. It’s available December 29th.
Now you can watch Mr. Robinson’s video: CLICK HERE