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(I'll end up saying more at some point, but know that I think there's good reason to think that these sort of creative outlets are much more important than we might think)
In 2006, a New York City English teacher named Ms. Lockwood asked her students to write to their favorite author and persuade him or her to visit the school. Five of those pupils chose novelist Kurt Vonnegut. Though he never made the trip to Xavier High School, Vonnegut did respond to the students with the following letter. He was the only author to reply.
November 5, 2006
Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs. Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer, and Congiusta:
I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances anymore because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.
What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art—music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage—no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.
Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower, and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.
Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six-line poem about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?
Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces and discard them into widely separated trash receptacles. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.
God bless you all!
Kurt Vonnegut is the author of 14 novels, including Slaughterhouse-Five, consistently rated one of the 100 best English-language books of the 20th century.
"Here's what I've learned about creativity from the world of wholehearted living and loving:
1. “I’m not very creative” doesn’t work. There’s no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity isn't benign. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.
2. The only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born of our creativity.
3. If we want to make meaning, we need to make art. Cook, write, draw, doodle, paint, scrapbook, take pictures, collage, knit, rebuild an engine, sculpt, dance, decorate, act, sing – it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning."
Lighting makes such a difference in how you feel in your space. It's really hard to notice unless you run experiments, so maybe just take my word for it and start optimizing?