We are all creative.

I know, the world has taught us that there are a few people who are “creatives” and we have been assured, in a million subtle and not-so-subtle ways, that we are not them.

There is one American Idol – this season anyway – and it is conspicuous that it isn’t us.

We don’t have crowds of adoring teenagers cheering us in bleachers. There is no marching band when we ride down main street in our non-convertible, not waving to the nobody not watching. Police do not stop traffic to let us parade through. They have other intentions with us.

Randy Jackson didn’t call today – again. His people didn’t even call my people because I am my people.

And the thousands of young, energetic, hopefuls who line up for the show all seem to have talent. It sometimes seems the world is drowning in talent and they all are better than me at something.

That’s the secret.

You see, we are all talented and creative. Stop laughing and rolling your eyes. It’s true.

But instead of creating a song that will be gone in a few frenzied weeks, you are creating a life. And maybe a family that will continue for generations.

Because of this, you are more important than stars creating tomorrow’s oldies. Or next week’s karaoke.

Don’t expect to hear this from a “star” or their promotion team or the networks. They are busy promoting people who have signed contracts that allow them to get some of the money generated.

The hidden message is this:

You are not as talented as these people, so give up and buy their stuff. It’s easier.

This is a lie. You are talented and creative in a way that no one else is. Here is the truth:

Only you can create your life.

You won’t hear that on a commercial either. They are trying to sell you something that will fix the problem they created that you didn’t know you had.

The hidden message is this:

You are broken and not good enough. Only buying our product will help.

No wonder countless studies link watching TV to depression and low self-esteem. The more you watch, the worse you feel.

(Example 1, Example 2, Example 3)

They actually have a financial interest in making you feel bad because those bad feelings motivate you to action – buying their stuff.

Again, I repeat the truth:

Only you can create your life.

Today, I am determined to act instead of react, to choose instead of follow, to create instead of buy.

There is no one like me or you. To try to be someone else or let another control my life is to insult the Creator that made me.

To be cowed into non-creative consuming is to give up the thing that makes us different, unique, special.

You are not a copy. You’re the original.

You are not an Elvis impersonator. You are not a Michael Jackson clone doing tricks for tips on Hollywood Boulevard. You are not a hanger for look-alike celebrity swag.

Be brave. Be you.

There’s more to you than you think.

Much of life is invisible in the short term. You don’t get the results in a few minutes. Consequences are not immediately obvious. But you are making a difference.

The world is changing because of you. It shows up slowly but it’s real. You see glimpses of it along the way. Soak them in. That’s reality.

The final results won’t be in for years. Then you will have the perspective to see it. Then you will realize that your decisions created your life. Live well and the ripples will spread far and last long.

This weekend I saw it.

I saw the results of a lifetime of painting the hard way. I saw a musician whose greatest legacy is not written in music but in people’s hearts. I saw survivors wrestling life from destruction.

I also saw a major star so wrapped in self-loathing this person can’t leave their bedroom, paralyzed with fear, lonely and depressed.

You write your story.

Every day that goes by you are creating a life. Be original. Don’t look for inspiration on TV.

Look to your dreams.


Mixed Media Painting (Detail) by Choichun Leung
Photo by See-ming Lee via Flickr