Rich Wilhelm

The Sylvester Stallone (As Quoted in People Magazine) Creativity Challenge

In Philosophy/Creativity on May 1, 2013 at 1:36 am

When People magazine debuted in early 1974, my mom was an earlier adopter. This is why I can tell you who was on the first cover of People. Do you know? Here’s a hint: the reason this particular person appeared on the cover was the same reason Carey Mulligan might appear on a current People cover.

Because of my mom’s interest (she still has all those original issues, including the debut), I often remember reading People. Certain articles and quotes within articles have really stuck with me, none so much as something Sylvester Stallone said in an interview published soon after the original Rocky became huge. This is not his exact quote, but Stallone said that he tried to do at least one creative thing every day, “even if it’s just to write a poem.”

While I’m sure that Shakespeare, Eliot, Frost and the author of “There Once Was a Woman From Nantucket” would have taken at least some offense to Stallone’s “just to write a poem,” his quote left a deep impression on me. Honestly (sorry, Sly), I remember that bit of philosophy with more clarity than I remember anything from an actual Sylvester Stallone movie, though I’m sure Rocky is still pretty great.

Stallone’s quote popped into my head again this morning, as I contemplated the obstacles each of us face (or think we face) in the pursuit of the creative. This is important to me and has been for years–I even wrote a paper on living a creative life for a philosophy class in college and that paper was apparently the only thing that saved my grade for that course.

For me the bottom line is that if we are actively pursuing creativity (and there are, of course, infinite ways to be creative), then we are consciously working on leading better lives. And, if we’re doing this, chances are we might actually find a way to help someone else in the process. Exercising our creativity in a positive way makes us all better people.

But, back to the obstacles. I realized on this, the last day of April, that I was feeling an emptiness that felt like it was coming from too many days that passed by this month in which I went through the motions and didn’t try to exert myself creatively. Technically, this probably isn’t true, but it can be easy sometimes to forget the little creative moments that ultimately might add up to the breakthrough moments.

So, at least for the new month of May, I’m going to try to take Sylvester Stallone’s advice. I’m going to try to consciously be creative everyday, “even if it’s just to write a poem.” I’ve even started a Facebook group called, naturally, “The Sylvester Stallone (As Quoted in People Magazine) Creativity Challenge,” for group members to share their daily creative moments. I invite you to join!

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Patrick F. O'Donnell

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