Saturday, July 10, 2010

Make, Then Take

Make, then take.

This is not a new idea. I’ve read its iteration with increasing frequency, from the stern but beneficent guidance of Julia Cameron to the stoic injunctions of adbusters. Here is my interpretation: before you absorb the work of others around you, create.

This is a lot trickier than it sounds. It’s easy to wake up and get caught in a tangled web of news, emails, advertisements, facebook - our modern mythologies are constantly in flux, and acting all around us. Our attentions can be diverted by nearly any little thing. But this is why it’s so important to take the selfish moment first, to divide ourselves from the glowing herd and cultivate our own inner creativity. Whether you write, draw, craft or bake - no matter the incarnation of your creative soul - it should be a priority to dwell on the self before engaging in the created works of others. This isn’t just for artists either, this is a concept for any human being.

People who don’t examine the world around themselves, who stop questioning, are often the ones who grow bored the fastest. You lose the ability to wonder if you flip through life in shorthand - one experience becomes much like another, and everything is indeed similar if you stop delving into the details, stop dragging the toughest questions into the light. Sometimes the hardest questions to ask can still be the simplest: “Why am I doing this? Why am I saying that?”

We’re losing ourselves in the world around us. Sometimes this can be a positive thing. The phrase is “lost in a good book” after all - in someone else’s world we hang, suspended - and being there can inspire a lot of great thought and innovation.

It’s when the feedback dies, when the creativity only goes one way, that we die. Merely absorbing worlds passively, becoming sponges to the television or films or jingles, is the beginning of inertia.

The hardest thing for me to do every day is to remember to innovate before I intake, to not only open my mind but perpetually reopen it at every turn. It is so easy to merely have a feeling or thought without examining it, it’s a lot harder to investigate why something evoked that in the first place.

Because I’ve been thinking about this idea quite a bit, I ended up shortening it into a brief rhyme - it’s how my mind works. And that’s what I’m sharing with you gentle readers. I hope it takes you someplace special.

Make, then take.

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