Ability to create is a powerful tool

The drive to create is an inherent human trait.

It's the urge to place our mark on this planet, to imprint something of us into the grand scheme of things.

The act of creating is the manifestation of our need to be heard.

This is not some characteristic reserved solely for those in the "arts." It isn't some weird, strange desire that separates one group of people from another.

Yes, some people might be more up-front about their need to create and express, but that doesn't mean that they are the only ones who do it.

Some see it as an internal force, and others turn it outward in the form of music, visuals, writing or anything they find peace and turbulence in.

I took piano lessons for 12 years straight, from first grade straight through high school graduation. For me, playing the piano was never a choice I just had to do it.

Not because my mother nagged me to, although I can still hear her telling me to 'slow down,' but because I had to. It was the way I worked through things. I always knew that it didn't matter how technically difficult a piece was, it was the music that was important.

It's harder to let yourself be heard through a simple melody than to impress people with how fast your fingers can zoom across the keyboard. You have more at stake with the simpleness of notes. You have to carry the message of the music and your communication.

The same is true with any form of expression: at some point you must let go and let creating carry you.

I admit I still have work to do. I can play for hours alone, but I get self-conscious if I know others can hear me. But there are times when I must sit down and play until I can figure out what I'm thinking. When I was little I'd get angry, plop down on the bench and watch my fingers fly.

I still do that. I'll get so pissed or sad that all I want or can do is play Beethoven until I calm down. And it works.

Someone used to tell me I wasn't a true musician because I was only playing someone else's notes. Unless I wrote my own music, I wasn't creating.

Of course that's not true. Adapting someone else's thoughts and molding it in a new way is creating. No piece of music is ever the same twice, just as no two sketches of one scene are identical, or two words are ever uttered in the exact same manner.

Everyone needs an outlet. I understand that I'm fortunate to have grown up in a household where creativity was encouraged and valued. One of my favorite memories is sitting next to my mom, my little hands playing the "bottom" running octave part of a Beethoven sonata, while my mom played the "top."

Now that's the sonata I play alone when I need to work things out in my head.

Sad as it is, creating is not a valued part of our society. It is usually reserved for those brave people who have the guts to let themselves be seen as creators. Then it is shuttled away and locked up in museums, galleries or concert halls, when the reality is everyone creates, and everyone needs to.

Maybe that's what something like graffiti is an individual's need to be recognized as a valuable person with something to say. That's really what we all want most.

I'm not suggesting that handing every person a paint brush or mandatory enrollment in the grade school band will solve all society's problems with violence, a decline in morals or disregard for life.

That solution is too easy and only touches on one facet of the issue. But with juvenile crime on the television news every night and in the newspaper every morning, maybe it is time to look beyond the obvious.

Yes, there is a huge crime crisis today, and as logical as it may be to blame the breakdown of the family network, there is an underlying current. If a child isn't recognized as a valuable contributor to society, then why should that child recognize society as valuable?

Every person must make her claim on the world, and everyone should be encouraged to do so in a productive way. This isn't coddling criminals, or future criminals; this is giving every person a reason to stay alive and make their mark.

Some might look at this idea and say, "What? Hand an angry kid a crayon and they won't pick up a gun?" No, but it would be a start. Anger is natural, but becoming violent can be a learned behavior that should be redirected.

Creating is a necessary part of education. Learning is more than reading, writing and 'rithmatic. It's vital that everyone, but children especially, are taught that their non-violent statement is important.

Funneling emotion into a product or activity is a useful tool. The next time you're upset, angry, sad or whatever you want to label it, step back and look at what you do to release that expression.

That's art.

Sarah Garrecht is editor in chief of the Wildcat and a journalism senior.

Read Next Article