During Christmas break, I ran into my friend, Shari, at the post office. I found out that she and another colleague had transferred from Konawaena Middle School to West Hawaii Explorations Academy, one of the first public charter schools in the state. (If you want to know more about this project-based school, follow the link). We got to talking and she invited me to come and visit.
I just listened to a Ted Talk by Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk who is sometimes called "the happiest man on earth." He is not only a monk, he is a happiness researcher who bases his conclusions on scientific evidence. He proposes that altruism is a necessary lens for making decisions because these individual decisions show caring for one another and ultimately future of the planet.
I do count cooking as a creative activity. You made something! Some cooks follow a recipe to a T and therefore don't think of themselves as creative. That could be so, because I think where the creative aspect comes in is putting in your own personal touch.
I have a tendency to doubt myself. (One of my creative heroes, Gavin Aung Than, just posted a new comic, The Calling, about artistic self-doubt.) Whenever something is going well, I draw a shadow around it, and ask, "But is this okay? Should I be doing something else?" In this case, I'm asking, should I be "working?" I retired early knowing that I am healthy and intended to work somehow or other to bolster my cash flow. So, that has been on my mind.
As I've written in a previous post, I am taking an online Sketchbook class through the Craftsy site. I am enjoying it a lot, and similar to my experience in picking up the guitar again, long-ago drawing lessons seem to still be in my memory banks.
I actually starting writing my musical play Pulani in college in a creative writing class. When I moved back to Guam, I developed it over the years into a musical play. It was produced at the University of Guam theatre in 1989. This past summer, while visiting Dance in Guam, I wrote a grant to the Arts Council to do it again, for a new generation. We got the grant, which will be housed out of the non-profit Island Girl Power in Dededo. It will be a summer program there. All are welcome to participate! (Let me or Dance know, Guam peeps.)
I guess I am having a second childhood, or maybe a second young adulthood. What I am experiencing now in retirement reminds me of when I first went to college. (Occidental, class of '78). It was a time of exploration, of discovery, of identity. It's not like you were a blank slate, but you were affirming these notions of who you are and were becoming.
I am loving this January energy. I think it's a common phenomenon for the new year. Collectively, people want to improve their lives, be their best selves, start the new year fresh. Typically, that energy dissipates. When I was teaching, it was diminished by the work demands of the job. But now that I am retired, I am hoping I can keep it up.
There were days that I felt "futless." You know the feeling? You feel like you should be doing more than you are? I think it comes from what a boss once told me I had: "a work ethic." I guess I'm a pretty serious person (I'm often told to lighten up) and doing nothing doesn't sit well with me. But I think it's like breathing, in order to exhale, you have to inhale. So, times of seeming idleness and rest, are inhalations. Time of creativity are exhalations. The inhalations are necessary and individual and the exhalations are inevitable. In other words, an ebb and flow.
Diane Aoki is a writer who explores other modes of creativity as her intuition leads her.