The Impresario Effect
What is creativity?
I was impressed by the impresario, who knew writers like Hemingway, who was open, who engaged in a free-ranging exchange of ideas instead of holding forth and sucking all the oxygen out of the room like my father’s people. It was the first time I had seen adults talk ideas and offer perceptive observations. It was the first time I saw adults who listened, who invited the thoughts of others.
I was twenty-five years old.
Mr. Armitage was a guest of Kim Taylor’s, whose house west of Austin was a gathering spot for artists and intellectuals. Kim and Iya, his wife, had taken a young woman under their wing whose husband had become violent.
My connection was through my ex-girlfriend. She knew Ray Lynch, who lived across the street from the battered young woman, and somehow I was included in an invitation to visit the Taylor homestead with my friends. Everyone else was a true adult, fifty or sixty years old.
My impression of adults up to that time was that they were mostly full of — how shall I say — unquestioned and self-congratulatory opinions. These adults were different. They asked questions and seemed interested to learn. They themselves wrestled with creative projects and respected the effort and mentality involved to produce quality work.
Iya, who was Swiss, was a Jungian. She pushed me toward Jungian analysis, a direction I was already headed toward. The discussions around art and literature were a revelation to me. Up to this time I had only met stimulating adults by proxy, in books.
Meeting flesh and blood artists and intellectuals at this time of my life convinced me it was real, that I wasn’t dreaming to think this kind of future awaited me.
My path was still wandering then, but somehow I seemed to always sense my orientation to a true north even when I was lost. That experience of meeting seasoned adults who lived in the world I wanted to inhabit was a recalibration of my inner compass. I’m thankful it came when it did. I know now that it is possible to give up on your dreams, to start to believe they were just childish fantasies, after all.
That didn’t happen to me. There were many things that sustained me over the years, but this was the first. I see now that it was a cornerstone to the life I was instinctively constructing.
We need mentors more than ever now, because there is so little guidance from the depths. We need vision and we need visionaries, especially when we are young.
We need old people who have ripened into elders, like ancient oaks in a forest.
We need a sense of living in the rhythm of ancient verities, instead of the youth-obsessed throwaway culture we find ourselves in. We need to find our way to the meaning of our lives, not by accepting outworn dogmas, but by discovering it in our own living deeply.
We need real life.