Friday, April 19, 2013

The Greatest Story Ever Told...

I believe that creativity begins at a very young age.

Children who are exposed to art, music, theater, and creative writing early on in life tend to be more creative when they become adults.

In most academic curriculums, imagination and creativity have been replaced with facts, reasoning, and controlled processes.

Whereas math, science, and cognitive reasoning give us powerful tools, creativity allows us to think outside the box and apply those analytical tools to solve complex real-world problems.

I still believe, however, that kids need to be kids.

They need to be silly. They need to play dress-up, build things with blocks of wood, paint with their fingers, and belt out songs at the top of their lungs.

Although my children are now young adults in their twenties, they speak fondly of a creative game that we used to play when we found ourselves among a large crowd of people.

We didn’t really have an official name for our little game... but it could have been called "who’s that?"
One of us would choose a random person in the crowd and another would then create a fictitious biography about the person we had just chosen.

While at a crowded shopping mall, my daughter might point to a 40-something blonde woman and say "Her!"

A typical story might go like this:

"That lady is from Texas where she and her sister were raised by her grandparents because their parents died in an auto accident when they were young. She had always hoped to be an airline pilot because she wanted to travel and see the world, but she found that she was afraid of small rooms so a cockpit was out of the question.

She ended up joining the army and was sent to several bases around the world fulfilling her life-time dream of seeing the world. She eventually got married to a man she met while stationed in Germany. He was a computer engineer and the couple eventually found themselves in Silicon Valley.

This weekend they are on vacation in San Diego but she forgot to pack a bathing suit so she is at the mall to purchase one... "

... and then it will be someone else’s turn...

We ended up playing our game for about an hour or so... and then went on to something else...

As it so happens, I was having dinner with my daughter last week in Los Angeles where she now lives. We spent the time reminiscing when the subject of our "who’s that" game arose.

She told me that she still remembers the game and all that it taught her.  She told me that the game had three distinct learning elements for her... all of which have some significance in her life today. 
  • The game taught her to be creative - Today one of her professions is writing (she is actually an actress in Hollywood... but she also is a freelance writer to help pay the bills). In playing our game, one had to be quick to create connected ideas in order to narrate a cohesive fictional story about a non-fictional person standing in front of us.
  • The game taught her the power of observation. In order to develop a credible story, one had to be able to look at a person and deduce a life history strictly from a brief observation. So many of us are totally lost in our thoughts, that we rarely pay attention to the details that surround us.
  • The most powerful lesson that she learned was that everybody has a history and a story to be told (although our stories were fictional).
One of my favorite movie scenes is from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. In the scene, Woody Allen’s character is experiencing a flashback moment where he is sitting in what appears to be his second grade class.  

The teacher of the class tells Woody Allen’s character that he’ll amount to nothing when he grows up... after which he poses the question "I wonder what actually happened to my other classmates"... one by one, the 6-year old children announce to the audience where they were in their lives 20 years later...

The short scene is actually quite powerful...

When we’re 6-years old... where do we think that we’ll be at 25-years old?... an astronaut?... a ballerina?... a baseball player... a fireman?... a jet pilot?... to most of us at 6-years old... 25 was an eternity away (well... it WAS more than 3 ½ lifetimes for us at that time in our lives)... to a 6-year old everything is possible and limitless...

This is the springtime of our lives. This is a time of growth.

By the time we reach our 25th birthday our perspective changes.

Even though we can look at the end buffet of opportunities in front of us... we realize that our plates can only hold so much so we must make difficult choices...

At 25, we are now in the summer of our lives. It is a time of abundance and limitless choices...

As we get older, we begin to start choosing. We choose where we live... we choose our careers... we choose spouses... we decide to start families...

Summer is a time of hard work and limited resources with more and more demands for our time and money.

Sometimes we make good choices... other times not so good. And although it may not be easy, we ultimately learn that we can turn to a new page and make a fresh start if necessary.

Sometime around our 50th birthday, our paradigm begins to shift once again.

We are now entering into the autumn of our lives. This is a time where we can enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Our children have grown up so we now have more time and resources. Our attentions now turn from our children and careers to other things in life such as loving relationships... good health... giving back to the community and to those less fortunate.

It also begins a time when we start to understand that life is finite and that certain windows of opportunities are beginning to close. We rush to do those things that we have long dreamed of doing before the winter sets in...

The winter of our lives eventually comes and with it comes the culmination of a life well-lived.

Knowingly or unknowingly, we all leave this earth with a footprint... a legacy... a memory.
Our stories are real and span an entire lifetime...

Regardless of what point we are in our lives... we are stilling writing chapters...

What kind of story do you hope to write?

Will it be the greatest story ever told?

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse, where we hope to read and understand your story one day...

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