“The Creative Adult Is The Child Who Survived”

This meme has been circulating around the internet. I find it far more appealing than Keeping Calm and Carrying On. I also learned at some point, can’t remember when, that it’s only part of the entire quote. The quote reads fully as this:

The creative adult is the child who survived.

The creative adult is the child who survived after the world tried killing them, making them “grown up”. The creative adult is the child who survived the blandness of schooling, the unhelpful words of bad teachers, and the nay-saying ways of the world. The creative adult is in essence simply that, a child. I agree with this for the most part, except for that final sentence, that the creative is in essence, a child. Admittedly, I’m not a proponent of our society’s near-deification of children (or at least the sentimentalized notions of childhood), the inner child, and socia, if your offspring is not electromagnetically emitting wavelengths at 420 nm, they are not “indigo”. What I do feel is that the adult creative exists in a place not entirely wrapped up in society’s conventions of what being a “grown up” is –I think it involves toned down color palettes, bland “easy listening” corporate rock, and of course, having said kids whether you want to or not. Which is not to say the creative must remain childfree if they don’t wish to–I know talented artists with kids and ones without. I think the creative exists in a place of having the agency which adults do and children do not, and honestly if you don’t recognize core developmental differences between a fully matured adult and a child, you’re probably up to something that’s neither creative nor ethical. But I believe in existing in a place where one doesn’t have to adhere to such strict tenets of how you must look, act, and be by specific ages. To understand that until the day you lose all sentience, there are new ways to perceive, experience, learn and grow. You know, all those things they don’t want you doing at school, and even less when you enter the system of making your CEOs richer than they already are.

 My heart leaps up when I behold
 A rainbow in the sky:
 So was it when my life began;
 So is it now I am a man;
 So be it when I shall grow old,
 Or let me die!
 The Child is father of the Man;
 I could wish my days to be
 Bound each to each by natural piety.

–William Wordsworth, 1802 (Poe didn’t like trancendentalists, you know. Urk!)

UPDATE 11/8/2014 Apparently this quote was NOT by Ursula K. LeGuin as frequently attributed, according to her recent blog.


13 thoughts on ““The Creative Adult Is The Child Who Survived”

  1. Children do indeed have agency. They are held back (most often) by well meaning adults.

    “You do not exist, you cannot hope to grow. That is the tremendous step the child takes, the step that goes from nothing to something.”
    ― Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said and an interesting thing to think about . Reminds me of the little prince in the beginning when they are asking the child about the elephant in the snake or the adult saying it’s a hat. Thanks for checking out my blog. It’s a work in progress. X


  3. I really like this. I’ve recently accepted the fact that the abuse of my childhood has caused me to live my life as a child pretending to be an adult. The one thing that people have always said about me is that I am creative.


    • Thank you for calling my attention to the fact that this quote is wrongly attributed to Ursula K. LeGuin. It was also interesting to read her thoughts on it. Unlike me, she does not care for the quote, although like me, she also doesn’t care for the Cult of the Inner Child (I also mentioned disagreeing with the deification of children.) Whoever actually said this, though, with the exception of the last sentence, I like it because I read it as referring to surviving the kind of social programming that creates this kind of dichotomy. The whole children are pure and good and imaginative and adults must be dull and dead and bland. After all, with the exception of a few prodigies, I think those who create the art that has moved us the most tend to be adults!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jenny, I’ve just read this for the second time. Blown away, got to the end, went for the “like” button, found that I’ve already “liked” it….well blow me down, it could well be the fourth or fifth time I’ve read this, given that my memory has taken a hike, and I would still click “like” if I could! So there 😉


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