As my readers know, all my life I have been motivated by the idea of being creative. Non-creative people baffle me. Why do they even exist? How can they find meaning in life, I wonder, since creativity gives so much meaning to my life?
In the fall of 1979, when we were juniors in high school, Michael and I took Principles of Writing I class from an outstanding teacher named Ruth Dishman.
“Mrs. Dishman thinks Michael and I should co-author some satire. She says that I am ‘gifted’. I wish she would turn us loose. Then I could show this class what I can really do.” -My Journal, 08-31-79
The hardest project in the class was Dishman’s annual “handicapped” paper, which we did early in the semester. As a class, we interviewed several handicapped people, then wrote an essay based on those interviews. It was more like reporting than creative writing, yet it was my weakest offering of the year. Michael, on the other hand, got very interested, to the point of spending an entire day in a wheelchair. “Strange, I don’t recall doing anything today. The first and last thing I remember doing is putting the wheelchair in (Dishman’s) car,” he wrote in his journal.
As the years have marched on, creative endeavors with Michael have been some of my most productive.
I met my first girlfriend Tina in Dishman’s class. I had been flirting with her nearly every day when she suddenly stopped showing up for class for a week. The grapevine informed me that she’d been in a car crash and was at home, so I went over to pick glass from her hair and flirt more. Oddly, until I got married 24 years later, she was my longest romantic relationship, lasting just over two years. At one point she even wore a promise ring I gave her, although I never seriously considered marrying her.
The classed ended up being so fruitful and significant to me that when I was a senior and had an idle hour in my schedule, I routinely sat in on Dishman’s Principles of Writing class.
We once played a prank on Mrs. Dishman, mostly because she was the only teacher we thought had enough of a sense of humor to appreciate it. We photographers had keys to the yearbook darkroom which, inexplicably, also opened the main school doors and all the doors to all the classrooms. (I know – what was the faculty thinking?) One late night we entered the school and Mrs. Dishman’s room, where we removed all of the students desks and distributed them evenly into the surrounding classrooms, making it appear that all her desks had simply disappeared.
And then there was “Jay’s Journal.” I got ahold of this book when I was a junior in high school, a gift from Tina. At the time, I thought it was a real journal of a troubled teenager, and the fact that I wrote a journal also was very meaningful. The book has since been revealed as morality fiction, but still holds a place in my thoughts.
The logical extension of the journal has been my blogs and photo galleries here at richardbarron.net, but my career as a professional photographer certainly affords mountains of creative opportunities as well. Creative activities with my wife Abby are among my favorite things in the world, from shooting weddings and magazine pieces together, to our time on the road looking for adventure, the creative spark is still with us.