The Courage to Create

“This is a career that calls for your creativity”, “you need to be very creative on this one”, “we are looking for creative people”, etc. This is a world screaming for that flash of brain cells.

What does it mean to “create” anyway? Small as the job may be—a 3-year-old kid pouring paint onto your clear white wall—it may be regarded as something more important. Otherwise, people won’t kill for it. I see it as not only the correction of past mistakes, but the desire and acknowledgement for new possibilities, the discovery of an unknown future. What an adventurous journey! Yeah!

Sounds amazing. Yet I believe that to create is not just to enjoy yourself all the way. It’s true that we may feel excited for we can sense something new coming, but there will be doubt, worry, anger, even guilt. Your “creation” may well be the “destruction” for others. Think about when evolution theory was introduced to the world, how did people react? I used to look back and say “how stupid these people were”, but I never do that now. At that time, numerous people’s view of the world had been questioned and destroyed. You can’t blame them for finding it just too hard to accept the idea that they were descendants of monkeys. This is not just your own struggle, for to create is to rebel, to question the fixed, and to challenge the impossible. Any already existing dogmatism – whether it is scientific, political, moral or religious – may be threatened by creation, which is beyond doubt. It means that any single person that has the ability to make such shocking creations may be the enemy of the existing society or system. It is just like a bomb and you don’t know when it’s going to explode. No one like this kind of feeling.

However, human beings are just so good at contradicting themselves. When we look back at history, those who are praised and sacred are, not surprisingly, those who used to rebel their time and made great contributions to the world. People like Socrates, Bruno, and Van Gogh. They are what we call, the great.

So is the 3-year-old kid painting on the wall.


The Courage to Create is a great book written by Rollo May (1909 –1994), an American existential psychologist. You know what? It’s not so boring to read about philosophy and psychology stuff. Really interesting.

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