by: ellie june navidson
Yesterday i had the privilege of sharing space with a two year old. This child was the most delightfully sweet creature imaginable. They giggled and threw things and tore off their dress to amble around completely free. After the chaos mounted their dad produced some crayons and some paper in an attempt to calm the storm.
This strategy produced little success, as the little one created a new game. Rather than choosing colors and drawing something fridge-worthy, they dumped out the entire box of crayons. A waxy rainbow scattered across the hard wood floor. They smiled and started putting the crayons back into box. Once most were secure, they dumped them out again.
This simple act, this reinvention of the provided activity struck me as so incredibly profound. Of course this child knew what they were supposed to do with the crayons, there’s almost no chance that they hadn’t been taught that lesson. But in that moment, drawing was not a suitable activity for this magnificent sprout. They weren’t content to do as they “should,” and created a new activity with the materials provided that better suited their needs.
In that moment i’d needed a reminder that creative solutions were imaginable. Sometimes i get stuck. Sometimes i worry that my life is not at all patterned after the Western archetypal life. Sometimes i find myself holding a box of crayons and feeling like i don’t know how to draw. Sometimes i forget that i can ignore the rules of the world.
In these moments i find myself thinking that these rules and norms are set in stone, that i need to work to find a way to pattern my life in ways that are socially acceptable and valued. i get caught up worrying that i’m not on a career path, that my passions and drives aren’t comprehensible by most of society. i worry that my life isn’t worthy of being hung on the fridge.
But yesterday i was reminded that creating a new method is often beautiful, even if it may be read by larger culture as destructive. Sometimes it’s necessary to break down old ways of being and doing in order to create space to cultivate new possibilities. This sweet little thing reminded me that my creative capacity and unique way of being is inherently valid.
i was also reminded that recreation is a process. Dumping out crayons can be creative, as can picking them up and re-sorting them, even at random can have value. As can dumping them out again. They reminded me that the crayons are never permanently in place, they can always be shifted, dumped, exchanged, used, replaced, forgotten, melted down, whatever. They reminded me, at a moment i needed it, to forget normal and do me.
Note: This post was originally featured on the author’s blog and was republished with permission. You can find the original here.
ellie june navidson is a queer, gender non-conforming creature. She has a degree in Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her activist experience is as varied as her identity, but currently, she is involved in queer/trans safe-space organizing and does written explorations of gender and normativity. Her personal blog can be found at invisiblyqueer.blogspot.com.