Yesterday, I needed a break. So, I bundled up against the cold and went outside for a walk. As I picked my way around the ice patches on the sidewalk, I asked myself, “What should I write about on my blog this week?” Seconds later, my answer literally stepped in front of me.
A man in maybe his late-30s got out of his car holding a red tin. I tossed him a neighborly nod, and he tossed one back and started up his driveway. Then he turned around quite suddenly and said, “Want to see what I made?” as he pulled the lid off the red tin. I kept a safe distance, but I looked.
“See, this was a box of candy,” he explained. “I took the molds the candy was in and poured candle wax into them. Then I sunk the flowers into the top. And now all I have to do is pop out the candles and a I have a bunch of Christmas presents!”
“Those are beautiful. What a great idea. And they smell so good too,” I said.
“Thank you! Merry Christmas,” he said, and turned toward his house.
As I walked by, I could have thought to myself, “What was that all about?” or “What a weirdo.” I could have wondered if that was some awkward attempt at flirting or maybe mansplaining. But I didn’t. I thought, “Did you see the look in his eyes? Like a kid in a toy store. How cool.”
See, sometimes our excitement about our art just overtakes us. It’s not that we forget the rules of social interaction with strangers, it’s that we can’t contain ourselves. Our Creative Spirit tugs at the back of our coat and says, “Turn around. Take a chance. You can’t make a connection if you don’t take the lid off the box.”
That man took a chance, a big one. When he asked if I wanted to see what he’d made, I could have said no thank you and kept walking. I could have said nothing and made a wide berth around him. I could have criticized his art and said something like, “But those candles aren’t very big, are they?” He must have known that, but he didn’t care. He was so happy about the work he’d created, he had to share it, even with a stranger.
And that’s what I love about art. It gets us out of our comfort zones. It coaxes us to take chances. It breaks the rules. It gives us a reason to talk to strangers.
So, this holiday season, put your art out there. Sing that song you’ve been working on to your relatives, even if it’s not finished yet. Wrap that homemade gift you made, even if it didn’t turn out perfect. Write that poem into your holiday letter, even if it doesn’t have a holiday theme. Share your excitement because that’s what makes the holidays hum—the excitement in the air as we share not only our store-bought gifts, but the gifts of our creativity.
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