Saturday, May 19, 2007

Our GOH for today's college day event was amazingly down-to-earth and clear of thought. She not only noticed how creative and expressive our art students are from the paintings we display all over campus, but also how angry, repressed and suppressed their subject matter was.

While she was sympathetic, her advice was practical and sound. Sure, students understandably feel constrained by the rules they live under, by the expectations people have of them, by having to do whatever they're told or face some arbitrary consequence, particularly if they are still in a school system. In contrast, the world promises freedom, everyone being able to do, dress, say what they like; and the difference just makes it harder to live in the suffocating environment of teenage student life.

But the school is pretty much the only place in which our young can learn that there have to be rules, lines drawn that set their standards and values for life. Without having to live under rules, being thrown into a world with no rules is more frightening than it sounds. As she put it, rules provide "points of reference" from which we can deal with the strange and the unknown.

Students feel they can't be creative or learn creativity under the pressure of their restraints. But it's in having to manouvre within our constraints that's where creativity can bloom. There's nothing creative about running off to live a hermit's life -- there's no audience for what a hermit does -- but it's in learning to live with others and to relate to them that's when we need to be creative, and that's also when other people can appreciate our creativity as well.

Our GOH is wheelchair-bound. She may be disabled, but she's so genuinely positive. I give her credit because she doesn't speak in platitudes, just from good sense. Hence, unlike other happy disabled people (or even happy abled people), she doesn't give me the creeps. Perhaps her disability gives her an added dimension of being able to enjoy life to the fullest, while the rest of us simply take life for granted. It's a timely wake-up call.

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