Are We More Creative When We’re Free?

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We are because we have more chances to explore.
Openness brings us to new possibilities. To new interactions.
And we become more apt to dare. To defy existing notions. To invent.
Creativity calls for risk taking.
Freedom opens the door to taking such risks.
Every person is endowed with a variety of potentials.
Freedom is an invitation to develop them.
Yet not every person chooses that path.
Many succumb to fear, freedom’s mortal enemy.
If there is a god, then freedom and creativity bring us close to him or her.
Every human being has to fight the darkness that comes with fear.
The darkness that whispers to us, ‘don’t question, accept, be quiet, don’t follow your intuitions.’
Of course, sometimes fear makes sense and saves our lives. But we have to tell the difference.
We don’t have to be loud to dare but we have to take risks and small steps count, too.
A small step today. Perhaps a larger one tomorrow.
But take steps we must, for otherwise are lives have no chance of attaining meaning.
The meaning of our existences blossoms from our taking risks.
Dare in your chosen fields. Dare in the sciences, in the arts, in your jobs, in your relationships, but dare to create!
Dare politically, too. Political protests are acts of creation.
Political systems that restrict us demean us. They rip from our souls our chance to enhance our personal meaning.
Leaders that tell us what to think do violence to our essence.
We are born to be free and yet in our world today – now 8 billion of us – a large portion live in bondage.
In bondage to people who think they are better than the rest.
In Iran, the governing mullahs think they have God’s ear, and the rest of the population better follow what they say.
In Russia today, a poll reports that 79% of the population approves of Putin.
That’s 79% of Russians who have chosen not to dare.
In China, Xi Jinping tells the rest of the Chinese that his ‘sublime’ thought is the essence of their lives. ‘Just follow me. I’ve done the thinking for you.’
There’s something very sad about going through life and not having dared.
When our time comes to die, it will be easier if we’ve dared. Easier to smile.
Others will remember us well. Perhaps, even find inspiration in the lives we lived.
So dear Iranians, courageous protesters, thank you for your daring.
And dear Russians, dare to replace the man who calls himself your leader.
And dear Chinese, dare to challenge Xi Jinping.
Small steps count. They, too, are acts of creation.
Fellow Americans, dare to keep and improve our democracy.
And thank you, Ukrainians, for the inspiration you have become to the world.
Winds of freedom are blowing from your efforts.

Regrets. Living with Them




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We all have them.
The size of them varies. There are the big ones and the little ones and the ones in between.
They weigh differently on us but they weigh still.
Some date back to childhood, and some are as recent as yesterday’s.
A good portion of them were unavoidable.
We just didn’t know enough, were not mature enough, didn’t think enough, weren’t bold enough.
Regrets may go into hiding, sometimes for long periods of time, but they never go away.
And that’s by design.
Our memory wants us to learn from our mistakes, not keep repeating them.
Our memory wants us to decipher our code and become better at making choices.
If we’re not numbing our minds, by whichever method we select, they always find a way back into our consciousness.
Becoming friends with our regrets is important. It is taking a step toward healing.
They yearn for acceptance, to be embraced. They want our minds to say, ‘Yes, that was me doing that… it was me. I could have been kinder, I could have been wiser, more patient or bolder. But I was not.’ And then they ask of us to understand why we weren’t kinder, wiser, more patient or bolder.
Regrets are not popping up to punish us, they’re coming back to ask us to do the homework of understanding.
Through understanding, our acceptance becomes fuller.
As it does our minds grow deeper and stronger. Keep doing it and it adds up.
Before long we will be on the road to forgiveness. And then moments of peace.
Forgiving ourselves, forgiving others.
For those who persist and keep working with their regrets, deciphering them and letting them enrich us, there is a grand reward. The sense of personal freedom. Knowing who we are. ‘This is me!’ We may call it our core.
And knowing that our core is there, that we’ve had a hand in building it, is a source of great strength.
We found it. We own it. ‘I am making me.’
The uncertainties of the road ahead will then be easier to face and manage.
Years and years ago, when I was a freshman in college, while taking an English class, the professor, in discussing a short story he’d assigned, commented that we never get to know ourselves completely. I disagree. And yet, there are always surprises.
Having an interest in our mind is most satisfying.
As inviting as the discovering is, not everyone is inclined to do so. If you do, keeping a private diary is useful. I’ve addressed that in a separate blog.
So let us welcome our regrets. Let us look at them as stimuli that enrich and sharpen purpose, helping us fulfill the most of our possibilities.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

On Courage

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It starts with the willingness to dissent.
To be able to disagree, to oppose, to not go along with something you do not favor.
It is a quality to be nurtured. It needs to be exercised because otherwise it shrinks and atrophies. And to allow that is to allow for our gradual devaluing. In our eyes and in the eyes of others.
You can be born with that precious quality or work to acquire it.
Having it makes life immensely satisfying for you have an essential tool to shape your life.
There are different kinds of courage. Physical, intellectual, emotional.
A physically strong person may be able to assert themselves in a physical confrontation but not so in an intellectual or emotional one, while an intellectually or emotionally strong person may not stand up for themselves satisfactorily in a physical confrontation.
But what sits at the center of courage? What feeds it?
Four things come to mind:
A willingness to set limits, to say, ‘I have before me the option of this or that but at this stage of my knowledge I set my limits here.’
The willingness to take the initiative on matters leading to our betterment, personal or professional.
The willingness to trust our intuition.
And the steady exercise of all the above.
Courage’s ever present companion is risk. Without risk there is no courage. They go hand in hand.
Courage can be built, if there is the desire. And it is most desirable for it makes life richer and fruitful.
Courage can be public or private.
Every one of us, in our personal lives, is always being asked by life’s circumstances to exercise a measure of courage. Everyday life presents to us a challenge.
Most of those demands are for private displays of courage. Sometimes, though, they are public.
If we have been thinking and acting on the matter, then we’ll be in a better position to meet the challenge.
And if we don’t, then we should learn from it, thus preparing for the next occasion which, unless we’re hiding under a rock, is sure to come our way.
Life is unsparing in that sense. It loves to test us. To incessantly ask us, ‘are you learning from what I bring you every day, or are you sleep walking through it?’ Pay attention.
Lives are better lived when there is courage. Of course, as in anything involving courage and risk, there is no guarantee of results. Every day could be our last one. But such is life.
A word about group or national courage.
Today we are witnessing a special moment. Ukraine has chosen to stand up against Putin’s aggression. It is a remarkable time in history. Thousands of men and women have lost their lives in defense of their land and their right to choose their destiny. Russians and others that stand with Putin, notably China, should be ashamed of their stance.
The rest of us should not forget this.
Political leaderships that silence dissent are a threat to all of us, even to those thousands of miles away.
And just like Russians and Chinese gave in to their leaders, we should be on guard that it doesn’t happen in our land.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com, anchor.fm, apple and google podcasts.