The other night my really close friends' daughter graduated from pre-kindergarten. Yes, you read that correctly. There was a graduation ceremony… For 5 year olds… And it was awesome. I’m talking cap and gown, diploma, musical performance (with hand gestures) and star shaped rice krispy treats to accompany a post ceremony celebration. This may not come as a surprise to you, but a few years ago when I experienced it with one of their other daughters it was a first for me. I had never seen anything like it before. Back in Milwaukee I don’t think we even had an 8th grade graduation ceremony. (Any Brown Deer alumni feel free to confirm or deny that as truth in the comment box. Awwwwww B.D.!)
Towards the end there was a slide show divided into sections with a few pictures dedicated to each child. Each one said what they wanted to become when they grew up. Seeing the adventure and innocence in those young eyes, accompanied by Francesca Battistelli’s “Write Your Story” had me a tad watery-eyed and pulled my chest down into my gut just a little bit (which I’m pretty sure is the manly way to cry). There’s something powerfully engaging and inspiring about a 5 year old sharing what they want to “be” when they grow up. A fireman. A doctor. A princess. And my favorite of all, a “pancake cook” (which I thought was a lot more innovative than this kid who got over a million views - no offense kid, or Batman). It's amazing how most children have this wide open imagination, not filled with fear of failure, regret and cynicism, but open to a world where anything is possible.
I sat there thinking about myself and what I dreamed about back when I was 5 years old fighting imaginary storm troopers and creating worlds full of adventures with my cousins. My future was ahead of me, and the potential of what I could one day become helped encourage me through the mundane daily routine of life. But now after years of getting banged up, learning some tough lessons and grieving over the future I may never have (Steven Furtick calls this the “expectation gap”), I typically don’t dream beyond my existing perceived reality. I’m growing in this area, especially when it comes to creativity.
There is this incredible Ted Talks by Sir Ken Robinson: on how most education systems are “educating people out of their creative capacities.” And because of this something shifts in our brains as we are taught to value and prioritize logic over creativity. I have wrestled with the consequences of this way of thinking for the majority of my career. If you find the time to listen to this, he’s already communicated it in a way that I never could.
With that said, I will stop here and give you the chance to go and give that a listen. I have to pack and get ready to head out to LA tomorrow morning along with a list of to-do’s I’ve avoided for 3 days. I will pick it back up where I left off with Pt. 2 very soon. Cheers! (I never say that but it felt good so we're goin with it)