18 Jan Your family’s weirdness is good for your creativity.
All of us have weird families because, let’s face it, we’re all individually weird. And it’s usually only the slow metronome of Christmas or Chinese New Year that brings family together with enough time to marvel at just how similarly and differently whacko we’ve all become.
In the case of my own immediate gene pool (plus adjacent breeding partners), it’s part circus, part zoo. Colourful, loud and occasionally dangerous.
These holidays, between the giving and receiving of gifts and the frequent bloating feasts, we’ve had several sessions of wet-your-pants laughing, tears, tantrums and table dancing. We’ve had bouts with anxiety and depression, arguments and apologies, scary ‘episodes’ with drinking and drugs, skeletons revealed, ghosts of past transgressions, several minor epiphanies, four trips to emergency for various reasons and, quite wonderfully, countless unguarded moments.
I’d be amazed if my extended family was anything atypical. Yours will have as many loons as mine. But what is extraordinary are the ways in which these ‘holiday season’ experiences with family are so real and raw, and more meaningful and memorable than most of the stuff that happens between these annual gatherings.
We may complain about the chaos, excesses and eccentricities of our families and whine that, unlike friends, they’re chosen for us, but families stand alone in their ability to remind us of who we really are and why. While we curate our friends, our families are random acts of evolution.
So use them to evolve creatively. All those family foibles and frailties deepen our understanding of each other. Chaos and creativity are close cousins. Let them flow through you and find their way into your work this new year.
In the opening minutes of American Hustle Christian Bale performs an elaborate comb-over and we instantly like him for it. Families are full of comb-overs. And it’s funny how quickly we connect with them.