Today’s post is by Maximilian Reid, a Webster University alumni and entrepreneur. He talks about what happens when we are judged for our creativity. The wisdom Maximilian gained from his loss shows us all that our work is valuable , that our prayers matter, and that we must keep the faith, no matter if that faith is in God, ourselves, or just in the stories we create.
My greatest regret in life was my decision to destroy my hand-drawn Pokemon Encyclopedia in the 7th grade.
When I was in middle school, I was so enamored with the magical, monster-filled world of Pokemon that I dreamed up new creatures with fabulous powers and fitting names. I had so many ideas that I just had to write them down and draw them out. I acquired a stack of colorful construction paper and a handful of fresh pens. I picked a spot on the floor and I created.
Not a naturally gifted artist, I mustered every ounce of concentration into perfecting the details on each of my imaginary creatures. I drew a dragon-type Pokemon with a body as large as a skyscraper and a mouth as wide as a cave. I wrote a scientific description of a new type of Pikachu. I documented the mesmerizing behaviors of my Ghost types and outlined the weaknesses of my Robot types, and I bound the multi-colored pages together into a book. I knew it was a book because I stapled the papers three times on the left. On the cover, I wrote the title in large, bold words: “Pokemon Encyclopedia by Max Reid”.
As I gazed upon my completed masterpiece, a shiver coursed through my body and made the tiny hairs on my arms stand on end. I had just written my first book. It had a title, it said it was by Max Reid, and it was 30 pages long. Pages. I wrote something with turnable pages.
I felt I had made something wonderful and original, and I had to share my book with my friends. I brought the Pokemon Encyclopedia to school the morning after I finished it.
“Look what I made!” I said to my classmates. “It’s a Pokemon Encyclopedia. It took me weeks to make. Look!”
I handed my book to a classmate, and he swiped through the pages too quickly to read through the powers and origins of each creature.
“What?” he said. “You still think Pokemon is cool? And you made your own? ”
“Your drawings kinda suck.”
“Why would you make Pikachu transform into that?”
I was lonely, and I didn’t want to be the weird kid. So I shrugged and took my book back.
“Yeah, it is kind of crappy. I made this, like, two years ago. I don’t like it either.”
When I got home, I took the Pokemon Encyclopedia out of my backpack and flipped through a few pages. I just wanted one last look. I took the book to the kitchen sink and held my Pokemon Encyclopedia under running water, and I rotated it until the ink swirled into a grey whirlpool down the drain. I tore the soggy paper into fist-sized clumps over the kitchen garbage can, and I tamped down the pulp into a mess of discarded credit card offers and utility bill notices.
I didn’t run hot water over all my writings because I had one bad day. I was an adolescent who didn’t adhere to or pick up on social cues very well, desperate to destroy all the things that made me weird and unlikable.
Years later after that painful purge of creative writing, I’ve slowly learned to take pride in my work, to take great care not to crumple a draft or toss out an idea too quickly. I see the stories I choose to tell as an emotional, psychological history in progress. I preserve all my ideas – good and bad, insightful and tasteless – and I read through them from time to time to remind myself of my intellectual roots. During my later teenage years, I kept a binder filled with sheets of paper on which I jotted poems, states of mind, prayers to God, lists of goals, and story ideas.
And I know I’ve since done an awful job of taking on a conventional personality, and for that, at least, I’m proud.
For more of Maximilian’s work check out Les MiseraBaristas on YouTube.