My son is 13, and the other day he told me that he needs a hobby. A hobby that doesn’t involve watching endless hours of people playing Minecraft on YouTube, or hours of watching comedic music videos on YouTube, or hours of watching slapstick movies on YouTube.
“You need to find something to create,” I said.
The older I get the more I think that creating something is the key to happiness in this world. It’s by making something that we share what we believe, what we value, and who we are. It’s something to leave behind when we go, something we forged out of nothing that will leave a mark on this world, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.
I think that’s why so many people point to their kids as their greatest achievement. What could be more powerful than creating a life, then setting it loose on this world to make a difference, big or small? That’s pure creation, right there.
But as I age I think more and more about who I am, and what kind of impression I want to leave behind me, and that always comes down to what I can make. I don’t think I want my obituary to say that she read every single Nancy Drew book and watched all 10 seasons of Friends, more than once. Even if they are achievements of a sort.
I have things to say, I have things I love, I have things I want to share, and I want to get them out there. For me that means writing – essays, blog posts, stories, pithy Facebook updates. I’m a words girl. But there’s so many things out there to create, to add to the beauty of the world.
A handmade quilt. A really excellent dinner from scratch. A photo album of your last family trip. A really elegant algorithm to solve a complex problem at work. An awesome Minecraft world. A thoughtful gift basket for a loved one.
A few years ago I did an online class with Alison Gresik that invited you to take an inventory of everything you’d ever created. It was for authors, but you were encouraged to include anything that felt creative. For me that meant a few bits of writing but also lots of sewing projects, some of my graphic design work, a guided tour of downtown I’d put together for my kids, and my elegant labelling system for all the dry goods in my pantry. It felt really, really good to see it all in writing. It was a solid start to a creative life.
What will you create?