The other day, I was visiting the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls. It a beautiful old railroad bridge that has been planted with flowering plants, shrubs, even trees. In the spring, it’s an amazing sight, and you can walk right across, snapping photos of the plants. It’s elegantly maintained and there are nice signs all around explaining the history of the bridge of flowers. However, there is ZERO answer (at least that I saw) to the most obvious question of all: Why a bridge of flowers? I mean, everyone in the town just acts like that’s a thing. “Oh, a Bridge of Flowers? Yeah, we have one of those.” The Bridge of Flowers is walking distance from another, equally amazing, tourist attraction: The Prehistoric Potholes. Right! As if that’s a thing! But I think that’s the secret to their appeal: The fact that they are completely, unapologetically, unique. This, to my mind, is the goal—being what you are in the best way possible. Here are a few tips for how to do that:
- Do what you love in the way that you love to do it. A few years ago, I went to a B52’s concert. Those guys aren’t young anymore, but they’re still rocking beehive hairdos and songs about Love Shacks. They didn’t feel the need to “grow up” and start singing about peace or diaper changing. They aren’t just musicians; they are a very specific kind of musician. It’s the specificity that makes them special.
- Own it. I’ve written about this before, thanks to Samuel L. Jackson. He doesn’t moon over the fact that he doesn’t have Meryl Streep’s career. He’s Samuel L. Jackson! Martha Graham said, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.” There is no competition among snowflakes.
- Make it a habit. “Your thing” isn’t something you do once and then move on from. It takes work. It takes maintenance. The Bridge of Flowers was planted in 1929. And, like the Bridge of Flowers, you will grow and change over time, but only if you take the time to feed your creative juices and keep creating.
Here is my assignment to you: Take one weird idea and run with it. It could be anything. Paint a table pink. Decoupage your toothbrush. Write an odd little poem. Get started on owning—and sharing—your own uniqueness. What will you make?