THE SKY'S THE LIMIT DO WE HAVE A REASON TO LET OUR AGE OR CAREER RESTRICT OUR CREATIVITY? CERTAINLY NOT, WRITES DIGITAL CREATIVE PRODUCER
invent yourself and then reinvent yourself, don’t swim in the same slough. invent yourself and then reinvent yourself and stay out of the clutches of mediocrity. invent yourself and then reinvent yourself, change your tone and shape so often that they can never categorise you. reinvigorate yourself and accept what is but only on the terms that you be self-taught.
The above is an excerpt from No Leaders, Please, a poem by Charles Bukowski. I came across it around the same time I decided I was going to learn computer coding and build an app. I watched YouTube videos by self-taught coders saying how anyone can master the skill in as little as three months. A speaker was talking about the magic of living in this century where, if you have access to the internet, there is more knowledge at your fingertips than you can consume in a single lifetime.
It’s been eight months since then and no, I haven’t started coding that app. I am also nowhere near finished with my lessons. I found coding to be tedious and challenging for someone with an attention span as short as mine. But I did take that speaker’s message to heart and, over the past eight months, I dove into other more enjoyable interests in which I had dabbled before, namely video editing and motion design.
Occasionally I get to apply these skills professionally, but I’m still mostly a hobbyist who is experimenting and posting the results as Instagram stories. But with all that I learn from that seemingly frivolous exercise, the opportunities to use my new-found talents increase. I consider myself a storyteller, and am fascinated by the idea of telling stories in whichever way I desire. Learning additional techniques to add to my storytelling arsenal is nothing short of liberating.
Much of my adult life has been driven by the pursuit of new skills. After high school, I studied fashion design, which led to my becoming a buyer in my twenties. In my early thirties, I got into writing, blogging and streetstyle photography as fun after-hours pursuits. My abilities developed and my path changed as I left fashion retail for a career in magazines. And here I am, at 39, more fascinated than ever by the possibilities of storytelling and the tales of creative communities within South Africa. If I’ve learnt anything from my past, it’s the importance of creative play.
It’s easy to define yourself by your daily activities; to say, ‘I’m a designer and that’s all I do.’ It’s easy to limit your creativity to whatever pays the bills, or to think you’re too old to play. Resist. My 63-year-old mother retired as a schoolteacher a few years ago. Now she makes and sells beaded neckpieces, and is also taking up painting this year.
I am admittedly biased when it comes to storytelling and creativity. I think of stories as one of the most essential tools in life, and believe that most of the things we consider to be important are that way because of the narratives we attach to them. How we see ourselves is closely linked to the stories we believe about ourselves, and how we view the creative output of our compatriots is related to the narratives we believe about our country.
With so many stories to tell and a world of knowledge available, do we still have a reason to limit the possibilities of our creativity to a life stage or career path? The more tools we have at our disposal – be it clay, beads, paint or pixels – the better our chances of telling, reinventing and contributing to that great South African story. malibongwe