Creativity Q&A: What Does It Mean to Live Creative?

Posted on Aug 24, 2012

Heading home from the center of town in the oppressive August heat, I heard a sound I’m sure I heard in my mother’s womb. The sound of tinny music, though not played particularly well, was inviting all the same. I searched ahead and found the source: a man sitting on a cushion on the sidewalk, playing the harmonica.

I was born in Texas. My mother’s father was a cowboy rancher who played the harmonica like a magician. I suppose this man reminded me of home.

I pulled a coin from my handbag and as I bent down to place it on his cloth, I noticed that he sat on a cushion instead of legs and his only hand held his harmonica. I caught his eyes, and a few words sprang involuntarily from my lips:  “God bless you. Sounds good!” He smiled a big toothless smile.

My favorite verse of LaoTzu’s Tao te Ching says:

What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher / What is a bad man but a good man’s job

If, beyond good and bad, I were to interpret that ancient wisdom for today, I would say:

What is this down-and-out juice harpist but my teacher / What am I but his job

This small disabled man with the big toothless smile is certainly my teacher. His creativity with what life has dealt him inspires me. I’m sure I would not do as well in his position.

I think about all of us who have it all. Two arms and two legs, for example. We put our painted toes in the waters of life to test and see if anyone wants us, and then we get scared and retreat. I will be the first to say I do! But from today forward I will think of the man with one hand out there making and sharing his music on the street.

God bless him indeed. I have been blessed through him.

Never underestimate the perfection of your circumstances today. Take time today to see and hear the blessings on your path. Make an effort to share your music with someone else. In my view of the world, it’s why we’re all here.


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