Becoming a Creator
It is vastly easier to consume than to create. While creation often stumbles, meanders, and backtracks, consumption rolls smoothly along. While creation’s payoff is uncertain and lies far in the future, consumption provides immediate, definite rewards. Consumption, unlike creation, is rarely tiring. And we are never, or almost never, penalized for consuming rather than creating. With all of these factors at work, it is easy—effortless—to go for a time, or for your whole life, purely as a consumer, creating nothing.
I was first able to articulate this towards the end of my freshman year of college. At the time, it was just an observation. Before college, I had always been into art and music, spending innumerable hours writing, drawing, silkscreening, Photoshopping, remixing, and playing violin. Creation had been my counterweight to the less stimulating aspects of my life (looking at you, tenth-grade English). Now a college student, I didn’t have time for art like I used to. I was constantly burned-out; I wasted a lot of time reading mindless “news”, curating my Facebook, or watching TV shows that, in retrospect, added nothing to my life. It wasn’t great, but it was alright. I didn’t have thrilling highs and lows anymore, but I was comfortable. I could, I realized, go on like this for a long time.
The more I thought about it, the more this observation scared me. What if I lived the rest of my life effortlessly, never creating anything again? Relegated to consumption, to being awed by others’ creations. Would I feel a vague ache, a muddy wondering of whether I could have done something similar? Or would I just enjoy the ride?
This possibility birthed in me a new kind of quiet desperation. Why live, if not to create? Any kind of creation—painting, editing, architecture, design. Even research is creation—you’re finding new patterns, drawing new connections, giving, enriching. If you don’t create, then what are you? What can you possibly be?
Since then, I have spent a lot of time mulling over creation, and trying to direct my life down that route. It’s hard. I have a job; I have obligations. I get burned-out, sad, lazy, angry. I am hounded by the Blerch. I wonder what the point is. I know, though, that I relish creation and that I am proud of what I create.
This drive toward creation is a big part of my New Years Project. I need to create; I need to make myself create, and track it, and put it out where others can see it. I want 2014 to be different. I want to be myself again; I want to be a creator.