How to Keep Your Wits in Life and Creativity
"But, luckily, he kept his wits and his purple crayon." -Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson
Life is chaotic like the first page in Harold and the Purple Crayon that I find myself reading to my daughters after a long day. After tucking them in, I take up pencil and page and begin writing. I take it one sentence at a time. That's how creativity works anytime, but especially when life is chaotic. And life is chaotic as we walk this path of pandemic, this path of parenting, this path of purpose.
Even when life is slowed to a crawl, so that all activities outside of home cease, chaos remains. It remains because there is still life to be lived. It remains because we still have problems. It remains because we still have responsibilities. It remains for a lot of reasons, but mainly, it remains because while we're home, we're not really home.
Like Harold and the Purple Crayon, it's one adventure at a time. Some adventures are calm, like the tree and the picnic blanket. Some adventures require courage, like the dragon and the mountain. But the whole adventure is unexpected, because Harold doesn't know what he will draw until the page is turned, until he simply goes on his journey one idea at a time.
Harold's journey continues.
Midway through the story, Harold finds himself falling from a mountain after slipping. He hadn't the chance to draw the other side. Sometimes life feels that way. Sometimes writing feels that way. Why?
Why can't we stay on the mountain and simply draw a slope to take us off the mountain?
Why does life feel like a free fall sometimes?
Why does creativity feel the same sometimes?
All these questions bring me to my favorite sentence in the story.
"But, luckily, he kept his wits and his purple crayon."
Wits. Sharpness. Inventiveness. Intelligence.
Harold had to use his wits and his creativity to change the trajectory of the story, wits he would not have needed had he walked downhill, his purple crayon leading the way.
He had to fall, but he didn't crash.
He didn't crash.
Instead, he draws a balloon that he quickly grabs. He adds a basket to stand in. When he's ready, he lands. He lands and begins to draw windows in hopes that he'll draw the window to his room. He wants to find the window to his room because he's tired, because he needs rest, because he needs home. Home.
So how do we keep our wits? We take life one day at a time. We take creativity one page at a time. And when we need rest, may we find our window.
You can purchase this book to find out if Harold finds his window. I promise you'll read it over and over again and it will not quickly grow old. And yes, I will receive a small commission if you order by clicking on the book or the title links above. What a beautiful story for kids and adults alike.