Declare Yourself Illegitimate

Last week, I wrote about embracing the bewilderment I have been feeling this August, due to factors from humidity to career malaise.

Since then I have been delighted to receive numerous emails, notes, and comments telling me that many of you have been experiencing the same thing.

It’s lovely to know how bewildered we all are.

And while I continue to enjoy wallowing about in my bewilderment, it has occurred to me that indulging it for too long may ultimately start to feel a little less glorious and a little more like a mental cul-de-sac.

What, then, have I decided to do?

Declare myself illegitimate. 

What on earth does that mean?

Well, this past Friday I had the great good fortune to hear Walter Isaacson, the author of “Leonardo da Vinci” speak.

One of the things he said was (and, in fact, the first lines of Chapter One are,) “Leonardo da Vinci had the good luck to be born out of wedlock. Otherwise, he would have been expected to become a notary, like the firstborn legitimate sons in his family stretching back at least five generations.”

A notary.

Luckily for all of us, Leonardo’s illegitimacy gave him the freedom to explore his boundless curiosity and his gift of observation—with results that take our breath away today.

In my bewildered state, this idea of freedom from expectations, from “should’s,” from historical precedent or societal pressures has been delightful. Bringing me to my new, favorite, question:

“Who would I be if I were not who I’ve been?”

Or—to be a bit more extreme—“Who would I be if I were not even ALLOWED to be whom I’ve been?”

What this question has done is to open up a barrage of possibilities that I had taken off the table over the years, for all kinds of reasons that live in the land of ‘should’s’ and expectations.

Frankly, it’s been exciting.

Given that, I am writing today to encourage you to declare your illegitimacy.

I look forward to hearing what happens next.

P.S. As you can see, above, regardless of where I am in this creative process eating ice cream remains critical.

P.S.S. Should you be interested in other words of wisdom on the creative process, check out what Mr. Cezanne had to say, in this post, “A Goal for Imbeciles