Specialist: a man who knows more and more about less and less.
Dr. William J. Mayo,
Co-founder of the Mayo Clinic
A friend told me recently that when people learn about the many things I do, it can be overwhelming for them to digest. This made me pause and think that she might have a point and one worth heeding at times, that is, only give people what they can swallow.
But many of us do have the ability to whip up surprisingly creative brews and should not put boundaries on our interconnecting (or not) ideas. We must give ourselves the freedom to explore our own creativity because not doing so and only permitting ourselves one designation, will make us cease exploring other areas as well. Many abandon other aspects of their ability, their deep interests and potential growth because they do not appear pertinent to their work. We are so much more than the one or the few things that we do well – even though it makes sense to specialize and become proficient in a particular area. However, connectivity and freedom from boundaries are essential elements in creativity.
The subject of overspecialization is one to which I have given a great deal of thought and in my book, HAVE YOU EVER HAD A HUNCH: The Importance of Creativity Thinking, I wrote:
“Although categories or labels can be useful in organizing products and placing them in understandable areas, they can also be creativity crunchers. They limit thoughts to fit particular categories, slots or genres; they impose barriers between subjects that would naturally connect. They prevent the birth of something new because it doesn’t fit conveniently into an existing niche. Ideas and hunches, which cannot be easily compartmentalized are rendered homeless, and real creativity – organic, free-flowing, unique – is prevented from being unleashed. Categories or labels, instead of being constants, should be regarded as useful suggestions.”
So for me, I will continue to combine my writing, my painting, videos and other creative areas into which they naturally flow. I will merge them into unexpected new wholes. Gael Gilliland really gets the whole picture of the connectivity in my creativity and I thank her for publishing in The Legacy Recorder this article:
Living Creatively: How one woman lives a creative life – by Gael Gilliland
Every once in a while you come across a person who is living their life in an out loud beautiful creative way. When you find these people pay attention to the words they say, the actions, their acts of kindness, and how their emotions and thoughts are expressed through ART. Living creatively can mean a lot of different things to different people. For Ellen Palestrant, it means creating art in an intentional and prolific way.
I agree with your observation re: specialization. One reason I support private, liberal arts colleges is that they often encourage students to see beyond their major field and thus have an appreciation for many arenas of learning.
Indeed, broadening one’s knowledge of and experience in many areas despite being an “expert” in one field, allows for the development of a greater flexibility of mind and a greater ability to adjust to life’s changing circumstances. Being curious is a virtue.
Ellen, I agree! Maybe those of us who have not developed the multitude of creative adventures that you have will pause to contemplate the creative and physical energy and time it takes to have the courage to release the soul and fill life with all of the beauty and philosophical wonderings that you do – and then they/we take aim at self/ ego with guilt or embarrassment for not pushing the envelope- or being all that we can be- but for me, beautiful woman, you are an inspiration, a joy, a reminder, and so much more compelling than the “self help” books that tell us in every one: Be brave! Just do it!
Indigestible! ???? Maybe for the creatively constipated.
Hardly – for those who can look in the mirror
and be honest.
Lorita – what wonderful comments! Thank you! I like your term “creative adventures” because each truly creative act is not simply a repetition of what has worked for you before, but an act of going further into yet-to-be-known territory which might prove comfortably habitable for you and might not. That’s the adventure and you get it, Lorita! You undoubtedly also have, and now I am quoting you again: “the courage to release the soul and fill life with all of the beauty and philosophical wonderings.”