“Traditional schooling first failed us when we were taught to stay between the lines and finish our work before [we] play.”
The question of creativity is not necessarily how to break the rules, per se. Some rules, the laws of nature, for example, by definition, cannot really be broken. The true question of creativity is how to think about these rules in a way that transcends the restrictions we are taught to think that they place on us.
When we are young, we have no concept of these restrictions. Anything we can imagine is possible. In fact, to our minds, the very act of imagining something makes it real. We have not yet learned that the world and our imaginations are separate. We have not yet learned to be practical and to compromise our dreams for the sake of what is and must be.
Part of maturing as a human being is growing out of the perpetual fantasy world that is childhood, learning the rules and adapting to them. Our parents teach us rules so that we can be safe and make good decisions. In school, we are graded on how well we can memorize, regurgitate, and follow rules. At work, we are paid to follow rules or to enforce them. All of this moves us forward in life and makes the world function, but it is not what we are here for.
We each have a unique gift to offer the world, but that gift is not found within the rules and it is not found in work. It is found by coloring outside of the lines. It is found in imagination, play, and risk. We must come full circle and learn to be as children again, to fantasize, to make a mess, and to believe that the impossible is not only possible, but that it is up to us to make it real.
“As in life, so too it is in budo. As in budo, so too it is in life.”
-Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu