One lesson I’ve learned in my life is that the art of creating things can be a hair-pulling process. Before any great work is written, there are countless moments spent by the writer, staring at a blank screen. The same applies for a piece of art. There can be a good amount of hair pulling involved with the creation of a child, as well.
For years, I’ve battled these moments. When you’ve made up your mind to do the work to create something, it seems like fate’s ironic kiss that the process is often filled with moments of doubt, fear, and frustration at your seemingly-endless inability to materialize the idea your heart beats for.
Yet, I think there’s something inside all of us that desperately wants to answer the “why am I here?” question in our life. Admittedly, this quiet voice is easy to drown out with distractions, substances, relationships, and even seemingly ‘good’ things like a social life, family, or exercise.
Recently, I blogged about technology and its impending future on our society. Another aspect of technology, which I don’t appreciate very much, is that it removes a tangible sense of accomplishment behind the fruits of our labor.
Simply put, it’s very rare to have a tangible something in your hands when you work in technology. Prior to technology, trades often dealt with physical items, labor, or face-to-face interaction with others. For example, a farmer could spend their entire year working on a field, only to reap the feeling of satisfaction that comes when they harvest the crop. Even workers in fast food restaurants have a physical aspect behind their job as they create meals for customers.
During my travels, there was once a time where I needed to exchange currency. Due to the high conversion ratio between dollars and the foreign currency, I received a large stack of bills, the size of a brick. There was something inherently satisfying about carrying a band-popping stack of bills that couldn’t be replaced by looking at my mobile phone screen to see my digital account balances.
As physical creatures, one aspect of our lives that I find getting pushed further and further away is the element of physical satisfaction from work efforts. For example, it feels great to complete a client website. However, it doesn’t compare to the feeling of satisfaction that comes from completing a painting, giving somebody a massage, or feeling spent after a hard workout.
Technology is a wonderful tool. However, I’ve noticed that it has the ability to isolate, or artificially substantiate things like friendship. E.g. social networks provide you with hundreds of ‘connections’ between others. Yet, unless one takes the time to physically engage with these connections (coffee, dinner, etc.) it can often feel like a hollow shell of friendship.
With a lot of my recent work being spent in the digital space, I’ve discovered a necessity to intentionally nourish the hunger for physical creation, face-to-face relationships, and tangible output that exists beyond data.
Recently, I found myself in a highly frustrating state of mind. Despite having high output with my projects and goals, I felt like my tires were spinning and I wasn’t moving anywhere. It took a long while to figure out the source of this frustration, which I’ve laid out above.
Creation has the ability to nourish you and remind you of why you’re here. Only you know the answer. I recently heard a quote, which articulated (paraphrased):
“Fear/resistance can only come from Hell, while the act of creation always has a seat in Heaven.”
I find it ironic and not coincidental that the same thing which can drive one to madness; the burden of creation, also has the ability to liberate and set you free when you complete the task at hand and can stare at the finished product of your work.
Today’s been a healthy reminder to sprinkle little bits of motivation, tangible outcomes, and even human relationship into my workflow. A conversation with my Mother helps ground and provide meaning behind the large to-do list that’s glaring at me.
In the movie Her, we follow the main character as he falls in love with his operating system. Unfortunately, I think this concept is all too realistic of a future, as data continues to become more and more ‘human’ as it can now interact with humans like never before. Often, I find myself thanking Siri for setting a reminder, for example.
In the film, it is the one thing that drove the main character to the point of anger, which is also the one thing that helped him discover real, human love; her breath…her breath.