I sometimes wonder why I create. It’s a pain, it’s hard, and it’s difficult to get from something that exists to something that’s good without a slow, grinding process that makes me want to abandon all hope and go do something, anything else. To be quite frank, I often wonder why anyone creates, but I can’t really speak for people that aren’t me. Although, I’m not completely sure I’m qualified to talk about myself either, but I think we can let that go. Either way, I’ve never found an easy answer for any of these questions, I’m pretty sure there isn’t an easy answer, and I’m almost certain there isn’t one answer. That’s not gonna stop me from ranting though.
There’s this attachment to the word “art” that I find kind of interesting. As being if, to be “art” there’s some standard of quality, or being on a pedestal, and every pedestal is too high. Just to put this out there, I want anyone and everyone to create and put something out there; it doesn’t have to be “art.” It doesn’t have to be great literature, or a perfect painting, or the best song ever written. It doesn’t have to be great. It doesn’t even have to be good. In fact, it definitely shouldn’t. I want as many people as possible to understand what it’s like. Just create.
Here lately I’ve been missing an outlet. I used to play out and perform around once a month. Getting out to perform is such an amazing experience, but since changing jobs I’ve had an itch that hasn’t been scratched. There’s a call, from where I don’t know. Beyond that the simple joy of creating and performance, there is an urge to create.
I suppose part of what I enjoy is the feedback. The special interaction between the artist who creates and whoever consumes. I hold no illusion that at least part of the allure isn’t validation. But less than validating all of the hard work and skill I put into a performance or composition or anything else, is that validation that someone understands what you’re trying to say. As I create, I express myself in a way that’s entirely my own; a portrait taylor-made for me to tell other people who I am in that instance. A part of myself, frozen in time and given for examination.
I don’t like to think of it as an addiction. It might seem that way, but it doesn’t ring true to me. At the same time, there are those who liken it to the urge to breathe or to eat. I’ve heard it said that art is the sustenance of the soul, and I’m inclined to agree.
Sometimes I feel like I have a responsibility to create, though I don’t know who that responsibility would be to. To be sure, I do enjoy creating. I like to think that if I were free of financial burden and obligation, simply left to my own devices, I would still choose to create. (Of course, we’ll never really know, but I still like to think it. Hush you.) But I don’t just create when it’s convenient for me.
In the movie Dead Poets Society (which has its flaws, but I don’t disagree with here) Keating says, “Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are all noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” and I would agree with that. When we enjoy a good song, or a book, or a painting, we’re inhabiting the artists that created them, and it’s important to see the world in a different way. Being able to give that to someone else is an ecstatic feeling that’s difficult to describe. It might be arrogant to call what I create a “gift” (or at least it feels arrogant to me), but it’s what I hope to achieve. Of course, an adage I’ve always stood by is that no one achieves greatness by striving for it, but by putting out the best they can. Whenever I create I hope that it affects at least one person.
Why do I create? After so many words, I’m still not sure. But I think it comes down to this: