Watching the students in summer school play music is inspiring. Kids who do not normally get a chance to play music together, sit with smiles on their faces. They hit the drum or bang the mini xylophone as if they are playing for a sellout crowd at Dodger Stadium. When the song is ready to end, they stand up and play with great enthusiasm; each one anticipating the final strum of the teacher’s guitar.
More than half of the students in this band are non-verbal. They have very limited communication skills. Others typically speak very softly or ramble on about a familiar subject. When they are playing, however, there is no difficulty in communicating feelings and ideas through notes and beats. When each song ends, there is a shared sense of accomplishment. Students who normally refrain from making eye contact smile at one another with a knowing look.
Creativity overrides the limitations of the rational mind. Any time we access the creative flow, we gain access to increased energy, mental clarity, and higher-order thinking. When we sit together and create, it does not take long before we are all smiling, locked into the intuitive flow of the exercise. We begin sharing insights and wonder aloud as things come together in amazing and unexpected ways. This natural sense of community and shared ideas is why, regardless of the task that we are engaged with, creativity plays a vital role in our success.
Bilingual Outreach Librarian, Yago Cura, knows how to bring people together with zine-making. Having attended one of Yago’s recent events, it was amazing to watch the room of diverse folks come together and create zines. Zines are do-it-yourself mini magazines. They are a blank canvas for ideas and images. There are no limits placed on creativity.
Cura is a master of encouragement. Every idea shared is met with an enthusiastic, “Go for it!”. The sharing of ideas and ‘a-ha’s’ is fun and satisfying for everyone who shows up. The room, full of strangers of all ages, quickly turns into a family. Everyone leaves satisfied; each with their own, unique zine and homemade button, courtesy of the fun button-maker that Yago brings along. This shared creative experience creates an instant community.
If you are feeling frustrated, stuck, or zapped of inspiration, it is time to get creative. Draw a picture, write a poem, or make your own zine. Give yourself permission to laugh at whatever story you have been telling yourself. Perhaps you have been believing that there is no hope for you. This is simply an indicator that it is time to open up to new, unseen possibilities. The good news is that, at every moment, if we are willing to make a conscious effort to become receptive, we can tap into a stream of inspiration and ideas that will take us exactly where we want to be.
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District and the cohost of the inspirational podcast “Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed” on iTunes. For questions, comments, and ideas for future columns, send an email to EdwardBiagiotti@ccusd.org