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Maria Rodale Headshot

The Courage to Create

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It all started with Lana Del Ray. When I drive back and forth into New York City for work, I often listen to XMU/Sirius U Satellite Radio, which plays great new music and tells you what it is while you are hearing it. The first few times I heard the song "Video Games," I thought to myself, Hey, that's a cool song, but I hate the name of it. But as songs often do, this one got stuck in my head and wouldn't leave. So I downloaded it and played it over and over. And still it stayed stuck. This was a good thing. It became the soundtrack to my life for a few weeks.

And then she and I both had a Very Bad Week. Mine was teeny-tiny compared to hers. My bad week didn't make the Yahoo home page day after day, thank goodness. For those of you who did not notice the Lana Del Ray spectacle, the short summary is this: She was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live and was panned as being "the worst-ever performer on SNL"--worse than Ashley Simpson, who was caught lip-syncing!!!! The New York Times this past Sunday even jumped on the pile, trying to sound objective and yet, unable to resist the siren call of group jeering. Although, with this sentence the writer captured the essence of the situation:

"And so the Lana Del Rey-bashing economy moves faster than the actual Lana Del Rey economy, a reminder of how free people feel to clobber someone, especially a young woman, for the crime of art."

As I said, in comparison, my bad week was minor. A business magazine website got wind of some disgruntled ex-employees and proceeded to challenge my business leadership and laugh at my blog (yes, this one, dear readers). This was also accompanied by what I'd like to consider a very dated photo of me. Stories like these are always upsetting to read.

However, on further reflection, and more listening to "Video Games" (yes, I still love it), I realized there is a line that some people cross and others are terrified to cross--so terrified they try to take down the people who do cross it--and that is the invisible line of the creators, the artists, musicians, scientists, writers, dancers, entrepreneurs, businessmen and -women, and other people who find the courage to create new things. Things that are different. Things that many people won't understand for years, and in fact some people never will. Things that don't fit into neat boxes or picture-perfect neighborhoods. Things that aren't just about maximizing profits and getting rich, but about making new things just for the pleasure of creation and because somewhere out there a few people WILL understand and connect and smile and understand and feel the love that goes into true creativity. That's the true courage required to create.

Again, when I thought about all my heroes and heroines from history and even today, I was reminded that they have had just as many haters as they have passionate supporters. That's just part of being truly alive. Whether it's Bob Dylan or Jeff Bezos of or Madonna or Lady Gaga. I distinctly remember when I was in college and I first heard Madonna and thought she was amazing and going to be huge. My friends at the time (who were in a boy band) made fun of me and ridiculed her to no end. True creativity is polarizing, and in that polarity and passionate loving and hating, the world evolves and moves forward slowly but surely...thanks to the ones who have the courage to create (and suffer for the crime of art).

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