I am what you would consider an "advocate for the arts." Basically that's a fancy way of saying I'm a supporter of those who create art and I sincerely believe in the importance of art in the education of our children. I love how artists can transform our communities, whether large or small--both physically and emotionally. Art can reach inside and change people on a deep level. Thus, that is why I also love the films, music, writing, etc., that are created.

Obviously you and I are passionate about music, at least that's quite likely if you're reading this now. The appreciation of art in its various forms can have a similar effect--from music and movies to writing and painting. Whatever your interests, it's easy to take in these incredible works and feel they are only possible for those who are born "gifted." So, it can seem like they're just special in a way you and I are not. But that's not true.

In some ways there's nothing more human than the creating of and/or enjoying of the art we or others create--even in its simplest forms. From time prehistoric, our ancestors etched their "art" on cave walls. When our children share their simple, but love-infused drawings, something compels us to put them up on our refrigerators. In both scenarios, we inherently know there's something special about humans manifesting and sharing their creativity with us. Clearly it's an important part of the human experience. I believe one of the reasons we have the capacity to appreciate these works is because the very same capability is present in all of us.

One of my goals this year has been to re-calibrate the way I think about art. I'd even like to delve into the creation process a bit more myself. I'll admit, the idea of doing so has unnerved me at times. Obviously, seeing the end result that is the work of great artists can be inspiring and profound. It can also give one pause as to whether or not we may have anything to contribute compared to such talented individuals. Of course, we don't usually see the work that came before the glory--the many hours, days, and years they've devoted to their craft. Also, the soul of art is not about comparison--or it shouldn't be.

So, let's say you or I sit down and write our first song on a guitar we've only been learning to play for a couple of weeks. Are our first renditions going to sound the same as Led Zeppelin or Stevie Nicks? Well, no... BUT. Maybe that's not the point.

Late artist Roy Adzak said "good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us." When you're stuck, it can help you get unstuck. If you're feeling blurred by the confusion of life, the process of making art can be cathartic. Art is a process. The product of art is a manifestation of that process--sometimes a really, really "good" one. But even if it isn't very "good" by commercial standards, there is an inherent value in creating art of any kind.

I have a friend who is an artist. One day we were discussing some of her work and how she got to the point where she was selling her art for literally thousands of dollars and she shared some insights that began to shift my perspective. I'm paraphrasing hard, but the sentiment was about how so many people think of art as something that has been created--whether a song, a painting, whatever. Although yes there are "works of art," art is also a process in which we engage. It may also be therapeutic in nature. In fact, author Brene' Brown has said that:

"Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgment, sorrow, shame." -BB

Whether you choose to take this metaphorically or literally, it's important to find some way of expressing your inborn creativity. Yes, you. It's in the nature of us all. Don't let fear of other people's opinions thwart you from writing that song, taking that watercolor class, trying your hand at creative writing, or whatever else you feel you might like to try.

Community colleges offer classes. YouTube can be a helpful resource. Find a mentor. Just take a step this week. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks. It doesn't matter. It does matter that you express your creativity authentically. Who knows? Maybe you'll have some commercial success. But don't worry about whether or not someone else thinks it's "good." What matters is that it's a part of you that you've chosen to share with the rest of us--and if there's one thing this world needs it is your authenticity. Even if you choose to keep it a secret, you need your authenticity, too. So, create.

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