I spent this past week on an unexpected trip to California. My mom was sick – she is on the upswing now – and I needed to be there to help figure out who could help her get better. I am pretty tapped out on hospitals, ERs and insurance company paperwork at this point. At the same time, I am profoundly aware of the gifts they all were in this confusing medical adventure we went through. More on that later – there were many surprisingly relevant experiences to share from all that.

But for now, I want to talk about this freight train I saw as I was making the 6-hour drive home. Check out that train. Isn’t it beautiful? I was totally struck by the colors and artistry on every single car on that train. What I thought to myself was, “Man, our drive for self-expression is so intense!” Because it is.

I get it that it’s illegal to paint those train cars. I’m not here to comment on the legal thing, either way. I’m here to scream from the rooftops: You must be heard! (Isn’t that ironic?)

Here’s the thing: If you are a creative person (and really, who isn’t, whether they self-identify or not?) it is essential to your health and well-being that you find your modus creativitando (mode of creative expression – no, that last word isn’t a real word, but I like the way it words with modus.) We know this from happiness research (especially if you are American), we know this from mental health experts, and we know this from people who tell us how much better their life is now that they’ve started living from their center of self-expression (like here and here.) Those people who risk their freedom (they could go to jail, you know… or get a fine, or whatever) just to express their artistic talent and message on the side of a train, they have this figured out. The bummer is, they aren’t making any money off of this. They still have to pay bills somehow. The nirvana is marrying your modus creativitando (yep) and your paycheck (in a legal way that doesn’t jeopardize your freedom to enjoy your freedom) and making big stuff happen in the world. Some people argue that you don’t need to get paid to do what you love, but I can’t help but think that is the only way to make the hugest mark in the world for most of us.

Meantime, if it’s a start for you and gets you off your tookus toward living your greatest self-expression, find a freight car to paint (but since I officially do not condone illegal behavior in any way, please ask permission first. Or whatever.)