I had a dream, many years ago...
I saw the whole of humanity as a huge bonfire. As people were born they became a bright point of light, as they died that point faded out.
The mass of humanity, the good people who have a good, peaceful, normal life were the hot center of the fire, they are who made the fire bright and glowing.
But out on the edges were the flames that made beautiful patterns, and the sparks that danced, they were the beauty of the fire.
I will never be the solid flame of a good normal life. It's just not who I am.
But I am a spark who dances on the edge, making the world more beautiful as I go by, inspiring others to come dance with me and increase the wonderfulness of the world.
Bright sparks remind others that they, too, can dance!
If it's your nature to dance on the edge,
Remember you are a bright spark, remind others that they can dance too!
I don't dance on the edge, but I'm there... solving problems, thinking outside the box, and trying to make my corner of the world a better place.
For example, I started building 30" high raised beds when I had a sore shoulder and when my friend came to visit she was so happy to not have to bend, she got her husband to build her two small ones. I was so sick of tarps over frames getting damaged in the snow that I figured out how to make bamboo ridge poles or use strapping to hold the tarps more evenly and more steeply so that clearing the snow was easier. A different friend is now copying my strap system.
Some of my best solutions come to me at night, at that point of not really quite awake. Some solutions have to wait until the *real* problem has shown itself. Some solutions are the 4th or 5th or 6th, but I just seem to know when I'm there.
There is a place for this, but I've also learned where there's a place to NOT do this.
I must be very careful not to do this when people are suffering losses and particularly mourning. Mourning is not a problem to be solved - it is a pain that doesn't have a fix and it needs to be acknowledged and supported.
It's extra important that if you're trying to solve another person's problem, that you don't "you should" them. I try very hard to own my solution. "I think I would try this..."
Alternatively, I'll try to ask questions, first to clarify it for both myself and the individual with the problem, such as, "What do you think is the biggest trouble spot?" or, "Are you willing to consider this option?"
The world needs the hot center of solid, reliable humanity, but it also needs the sparks that fly off and remind the world that there are many ways to contribute, and we don't all need to be the same to do so.
This got me thinking about something that happened years ago. I was working in a school, and all the teachers got awards that pointed out some awesome characteristic they had. I got "creativity"....probably because I did a lot of artistic things, like drawing and knitting. My brother was working there at the time, too, as their digital artist/all-around-computer-guy.... and he also got the "creative" award. But, "creative" and "artistic" don't mean the same thing! I'm rather terrible at imagining new things--I draw/make/create/photoshop something that I've seen before or someone else asked me to make. Original ideas usually aren't my forte. You can be both artistic and creative, but often enough you're creative and NOT artistic, or vice versa!
I may look like a creative "spark," but I'm really just happy burning away in the middle of the fire making sure things get done. I burn where I'm needed--I don't blaze new paths.
When I worked at Paul's assistant, I really felt this. He needed someone to come up with awesome, innovative, creative ideas on how to spread permaculture. But, my strength lay at slogging away and making happen the visions other people thought up--not in making new visions. I accomplished a lot, but I didn't innovate much!
So often, people might think they're not creative or "sparky" because they aren't artistic or musical. But, you don't have to be artistic to be creative! There are so, so many ways to be an innovative, sparkly, creative person!
I'm definitely on the edge, partly by choice, and partly by oddness.
Years ago, when I homeschooled my kids, I read an article that said something like, "education isn't the filling of a bucket, it's the lighting of a fire." What I observed in my own kids was that when they were interested and enthusiastic about something, they were motivated. All I had to do was to provide resources and give them the opportunity to explore and learn. When they were disinterested, they became bored and dragged their feet. Result? No learning took place! I finally figured out that I needed to be willing to toss aside the day's lesson plan and run with whatever they were excited about. Eventually, we got all the academic bases covered!
I learned some valuable lessons from that experience that I try to carry forward today. I learned that when someone is excited about a new idea, they need encouragement to fan their spark into a flame. It's all too easy to point out problems with their ideas from personal experience, but that only serves to douse the fire. For me, being a bright spark (or even soft spark) means being enthusiastic with them. It means encouraging them to ask questions and experiment with their ideas. People are afraid to fail and afraid of being criticized for making mistakes. They need someone to be patient with their mistakes and kind when they are discouraged. They need to know it's okay if things don't work out the first go-round. It's all part of the learning process.
I don't know how well I actually do any of that, but that's the kind of bright spark I'm trying to be.