Home on a brief reprieve from my job in the military, I couldn’t really understand what was happening. I was in my early twenties and ran mostly on the instinct that a young human male does. Most of my concerns were about how to meet my own needs, and any planning or thinking about the future usually didn’t go much beyond a day or two.
Which is what made this kind of surprising.
Walking out of the small building where the rest of the family was gathered, my aunt put her arm around me and explained the natural attachment between a first grandson and his grandmother. I wondered for a second why she felt like now was the right time to help me see that, then realized - I was sobbing.
Elsie was a fixed part of reality. Her admonitions to think about what Jesus would do minutes after seeing me treat one of my sisters poorly, her masterful execution of the details of creating a perfect stack of Swedish pancakes, and her soft, sweet manner were a huge part of my foundation. A foundation that shouldn’t have been, but was unexpected in its passing into eternity.
The moment helped me to open my eyes.
And in retrospect with a number of years separating me from it, I’m so grateful for that moment, and hundreds of others that embodied the heritage of wisdom and faith that Elsie passed along. I certainly have never been deserving, but I’m so thankful, regardless of that fact.
Elsie always had a thing she was working on - she was quite creative. In my lifetime, I saw her tend to her beautiful garden, and to her family; play organ for her church; and take care of her house - painting it, decorating it, filling it with music.
Her rule for creativity (at least the one I remember the most) - though simple in its far-reaching meaning - was that “sometimes you have to throw it in the corner”.
If there is any single thing I’d want to pass along from her heritage to any creative, it would be this. And that is regardless the particular outlet - whether you are a graphic artist, musician, computer programmer, or writer, sometimes…..sometimes you have to throw it in the corner.
Using the advantage of time, to counter-balance the curse of over-familiarity allows creativity to blossom. As time-crunched and busy as we are today - misunderstanding our human machinery, and the maintenance that it needs will keep us from reaching our fullest potential. But more importantly it will rob us of the sense of peace that we are born to possess.
So as you create today or in the future, remember Elsie’s Rule - “sometimes you have to throw it in the corner”.