I often write about skills that are useful for an artful life because I’m often asked about them. People are interested in how to develop creative solutions to any number of life’s questions – understanding that the greatest solutions arise from original perspectives. Anything can be learned. The question is, how do you learn best?
By and large the best skill to learn is how to learn. It takes time and patience. Not much more. You will be ignorant before you learn something, anything, you will be knowledgeable afterwards. Get comfortable with that because that is unchangeable. Often it’s only impatience with being ignorant that prevents people from learning new things. So life becomes one long rut. And that’s just wrong. Wrong, wasteful, and so unnecessary.
When I teach drawing at Marco’s Center for the Arts I tell my students that I am not responsible for teaching them how to draw, but how to learn to draw. I can give them every tool and every practice necessary to teach themselves,but they’ll have to put in the time, and they’ll need to be patient. And if they can make those commitments, I guarantee they will learn to draw. Again, anything can be learned.
If it’s creative problem-solving you’re after, nothing gives a fresh perspective like a fresh perspective. Go for a drive on an unfamiliar road, you’ll find your senses much more sharpened and alert than they are when on the road to your local grocery store. In fact, go to a different grocery store! Little windows and doors can open up inside you just from taking a neighborhood walk; when you see things differently, you think differently. The oft-neglected art of change is vital to creative thinking.
“Without deviation from the norm, progress cannot be made.” Frank Zappa said that, or something like it. When you change your physical perspective, you encourage your mind to follow suit. When your mind is wide open, anything is possible.
As the Spanish grandmother says to the young dancer in the movie Strictly Ballroom, “You just got not to be a-scared.”
Learning, I’ve often said, can be awful. But knowing is wonderful.