Growing up the eldest of four children in a council estate called Poets Corner meant that my parents didn’t have much money to spend on gifts. My mother had to spend her time caring for us, whilst my Dad spent as much time as he could at the grindstone earning money to put food on the table. So without the vast array of electronic gizmos that children seemingly take for granted, these days, we had to be creative.
When I was a lad all I ever wanted to do was play football, but I never owned a ball until I was 11-years old. But children adapt, and they don’t allow minor irritations like a ball to prevent them from playing football; the hallway doors made excellent goalposts and a pair of rolled up football socks made an excellent substitute ball. I spent hours booting that sock into the face of my little sister, and they were some of the most enjoyable experiences that I remember. Interestingly, my sister has a different memory of the entire thing.
My uncles were also very creative people. Whenever the rain poured, as it often does in Manchester, my Uncle Alan would show me how to play football of a different kind. I remember owning a tattered second-hand copy of the 1981/82 Rothmans Football Yearbook. It contained the results of all of the leagues in the world, and my Uncle and I would write all of the teams down on pieces of paper, cut them out, screw them into a ball and draw them out of a cup in our own version of the European Cup. There was no such thing as a Playstation in those days so we rolled a dice to decide what team would go through to the next round. I remember writing all of the results in a paperback book and I treasured that thing.
Then as I got older things got more serious. I had no time for creativity because I was spending all of my time trying to impress the other children in my school. I needed to be popular. I needed to fit in. Playing sock football with girls just didn’t cut the mustard anymore.
This ‘fitting-in’ behaviour followed me all of my life. Suddenly, all of my time was spent trying to accomplish certain tasks so I could prove to one or more people that I was worthy of their attention. Luckily, I had a son and so I had a second chance to splurge my creative spirit. After all, children give you an excellent opportunity to use them as an excuse to enjoy yourself.
Things were different for my son because he was an only child. I was able to buy him toys that I could only dream of when I was a kid. But it was interesting to see that he derived more pleasure out of the games that we used to invent, than pushing buttons on a Playstation. Whether it was balloon volleyball or pretend army, it was our creativity than made us smile, gave us joy and allowed us to share so many precious moments.
As my son starts Comprehensive school I worry about him going down the same path. For example, he is an amazing artist and for years this is all he wanted to do. When I ask him if he draws anymore he tells me that he doesn’t have that much time. He’s 11-years of age.
I am a very fortunate man who is lucky in love as well as life. My girlfriend is a tremendously creative person and she is forever thinking of great things that we can do in order to utilise our creative spirit. We are moving to Cardiff in the next few weeks and she has already found a great little graffiti art class for the three of us to attend. I can’t wait to see the smile on my son’s face. I also have plans to join a photography class, dance class and take many more actions to rediscover my creative spirit. It’s time to slot fun, enjoyment and creativity into the ‘to do list’ before it’s too late.
To make sure I get my fill of creativity I have started to complete my Weekly Thinking Journal round up with my girlfriend. After taking heed of the lessons learned from the week prior, we start to plan our forthcoming week. We use Wunderlist to organise and prioritise our ‘to do list’ and use Google Calendar to insert all of our plans. During the weekly review we discuss what plans we are going to make to get creative during our time away from work. It’s an exciting time right now and hopefully I will be able to share some of my successes with you in the coming months.
What creative activities did you use to enjoy as a child that you no longer participate in? Create a change now and incorporate more creative time in your schedule, tell us what you plan to do?