Yoda and the Creative Force

the-beheld_yoda_makeup-artist_Who doesn't love the wrinkly old hermit character Yoda from the Star Wars films? Brimming with wisdom and humor, Yoda embodies the perfect mentor. Google 'Yoda quotes' and you'll find these gems: "If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are ... a different game you should play."

"Do or do not. There is no try."

And, "Named must your fear be before banish it you can."

But my favorite Yoda quote (which, let's be real, are actual words written by the brililant screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett in collaboration with George Lucas) is this: "You must unlearn what you have learned."

I come back to this quote when I find myself overworking or overthinking my writing or painting. Sometimes our training and studies put us at a disadvantage by getting us trapped in our heads. We want to edit our first draft while we're writing it; we see the whole painting before we've even put a stroke on the blank canvas; we're so used to throwing pots on the wheel in a certain precise way that we forget we could try it differently.

A few years ago I was asked by a local non-profit organization to make a short film about their outsider art center and the artists who worked there. Many of them had Down's Syndrome, all of them were developmentally disabled, and at least one was entirely non-verbal.

The experience of making a film about these artists was transformative. They are the most unselfconscious, uninhibited creators I have ever witnessed. They did not worry, question or wonder about the marks they were making. They simply made them. They let the work flow out of them. And, when the time came to put their creations on the wall and open the doors to the public, they were simultaneously proud of what they'd done and also couldn't care less what anybody thought of it. It was a wondrous thing to behold. I think of these artists as my own personal Yodas.

For those who might glean some inspiration, here is a link to that short film. It says a lot about creativity, the process and how the world views creators.

May the force be with you.

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