by John Ashbrook
It is so profound, so amazing, the extraordinary creativity that a child can distill from the fertile purity of their innocent soul. In August of 1998, a special friend of mine was blessed with the birth of a beautiful baby girl named Chelsea, and I was deeply honored to be given the title of “Uncle Johnny.” I have always taken full advantage of this honor and enjoyed my “duties” as Chelsea’s uncle to the max. We played many long hours together, and I have taught her whatever I could about life; of course, she taught me many lessons as well. One such less, a very important one, I would love to share with all my friends at this time.
It was a warm, cloudless, late July morning just before Chelsea’s third birthday, and I was ecstatic about the idea of spending an afternoon of fun with her. As I drove, I wondered what delights she would have in store for me – little did I know of the incredible gift I was to be given that day. I entered the house through the front door after knocking just once and receiving the customary “Come on in, Johnny” from Grandma. I could smell the fragrant aroma of freshly baked cupcakes as I opened the door, and I could see Chelsea with her back to me, seated at the dining room table. I could also see she was deeply engrossed in something. I was a little disappointed that she did not come running with giggles and her usual, “Hi, Uncle Johnny,” but that small disappointment would soon fade and be replaced with utter joy.
I walked through the living room into the dining area and sat down at the table to Chelsea’s right, and now I could see why she was so enthralled. The room was bathed in a very quiet, still, peaceful glow, yet at the same time, it pulsated with the electrical energy of pure joy. On the table in front of Chelsea sat a plate of tasty cupcakes, her favorites, with white frosting, and just to the right of that plate was a small clear bowl of colorful sprinkles. To my eyes, the sprinkles seemed to take on the same glowing iridescence that engulfed the room. Chelsea’s huge blue eyes sparkled with enthusiasm, and her round, precious face wore an ear-to-ear grin. She seemed to acknowledge my presence without ever looking at me; I could feel it. Time and time again, she reached very slowly, very deliberately into the bowl of sprinkles and pinched just a few in her plump little fingers and placed them patiently, gently on the frosting’s surface, covering one cupcake at a time, all the while the unforced, unhurried grin of total fulfillment remained on her sweet face. She didn’t seem too interested in the results of her endeavor; instead, she obviously relished the simple act of doing it. She was in the moment and having fun. I sat mesmerized as the perfection of that moment swept into my heart and soul and left me with a new awareness and appreciation for the magical simplicity of just doing something for the pure pleasure of doing it, with no thought of what the results might be. For Chelsea, there was no good or bad value in what she was doing, only enjoyment.
We all have the instinct of creative expression. When we eliminate the idea of how something must turn out, we enhance the experience of simply doing it just for the pleasure of expressing yourself; eventually, you are bound to become “good” at it, and at the same time, you will find your own unique identity. This unforced, non-judgmental approach always works because you are not subject to the discouragement of your own criticism; instead, you are led to the deep fulfillment of self-discovery and the realization of your infinite potential. You quickly learn that your personal creativity evolves when you place the value in the joy of expressing rather than the finished product or the opinions of others.
The deepest, most lasting joy in life is not the product of emotional excitement. There is a soft, peaceful, glowing joy that comes from just being in the moment and truly feeling your divine connection with all that is, knowing that you are experiencing complete harmony with a perfect universe, even for just a little while. Whenever you are feeling down and anxious and discouraged with life, turn your focus to the remembrance of a more hopeful time, a time when you were indeed doing it for fun, and remind yourself of the joy that you felt then. Just as Chelsea reminded me of the happiness I had long ago forgotten, the beauty of that memory will do for you exactly what it did for me. It will lift you up, heal you and inspire you to express your magnificent individuality to a waiting world. It’s the ultimate thrill!