At the most basic, pre-high school level, we are all consumers. We need to eat, to drink, to consume, to live. Without consumption, we wither and die.
A few months ago, I was in a pretty bad place. For some reason, I just wasn’t as happy as I had been, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. I figured I just needed to be good to myself for a while, give myself what I fancied. My mum took me shopping, my friends brought me chocolate, I watched good films and drank good wine. I poured every resource of happiness I could find into my body and mind – if I was feeling empty, all I needed to do was fill myself up again, right?
Well, it didn’t work. I continued to feel just as restless and unhappy; I continued to feel like I was wandering through life without purpose. It was around this time that I began to write again. Since the age of 8, I’ve been a pretty dedicated diarist, I wrote the odd poem or short story, and I had always found it very cathartic. Now, partly because my life wasn’t very fulfilling, I’d stopped writing in my journal, finding that it only depressed me further to put my life and feelings onto paper. It solidified them, confirmed them, and I knew that if I arranged them into phrases then I was never going to be able to pretend that I hadn’t felt that way.
I spent a lot of time moping around, drinking coffee - all the clichés – and wandering the internet. It was then that I discovered the blog of my friend Ruth. It seemed a lovely, simple way of writing that wasn’t focused on me all the time, and I looked into it a little more. Apparently, quite a few people were doing it, and I thought hell, what have I got to lose? I signed up to a free blogging website, and began to write. For those who don’t write, it’s difficult to describe the instant relief I felt – it was like taking a deep glug of icy water when you’re desperately thirsty. My insignificant website became a place I could collect pictures and ideas, and what’s important, I could share these ideas with others. The pleasure I got from people telling me they enjoyed my writing was the most rewarding thing I had felt in a long time, and it got me to thinking about the importance of creating – whatever form it may take.
Art is, arguably, one of the few things that sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. For as far back as we can trace, man has been creating – paintings on cave walls, the oral tradition of poetry and storytelling, the wheel! The innovations and inspirations of our ancestors led us to the world we live in now – no matter how uninterested you are in the Mona Lisa or Contemporary dance, you are indebted to creativity. Creativity is crucial to our humanity! And, speaking both from personal experience, and from having spoken to others, I genuinely believe that people who create are happier than those who don’t. It’s something we’ve evolved to do, it’s something as natural to us as sleep or sex or laughter. For some reason, we’ve come to view creativity as a luxury – ‘I don’t have the time’, ‘I’m not the creative type’, ‘I don’t have the resources’ are all common excuses people give for why they aren’t contributing to the universe, and frankly, that’s bollocks. You can make the time, you only need very basic equipment (if that!), and like I said, to be human is to be creative. It’s an honour, to give birth to something that would never have existed without you, whether or not anybody else appreciates it!
This brings me to another point, which is how we foster the creativity of those around us. An idea is very fragile, it can be destroyed by a snigger or a yawn, and to do that to someone is unacceptable. Its common knowledge that some of the greatest art ever created was unappreciated during the lifetime of the artists. The point is not to make something amazing and new and wonderful – because whatever you create, it will be all of those things by its very nature. No-one could have written, drawn or choreographed it quite in the way you did, and that means something. You should strive to make your work the very best that you can, because your work is a representation of you. There’s no measuring stick beside which your work can be rated, because it’s in a genre all of its own.
I truly believe that everyone has a creative calling. Some write, some paint, some design buildings and bridges, some cook, some choreograph or write songs. Some interpret and develop the work of others. I know one guy who makes montages of video game footage – he’s pretty big on YouTube. Some people create new ways of doing things, new hairstyles, sculptures made of paperclips. The key is just to do something, anything, be unafraid of what you could achieve. The fear that it won’t be very good is not an excuse not to do something. Don’t just stick to one medium either – I’m currently learning to play the guitar, getting into photography and working on a play. Just in the same way it’s good to exercise different parts of your body, you should allow your mind to work in different ways. I’m still wandering through life without purpose – but I’m enjoying it, and I’m trying to give something back to the world around me.
As a species, we are consumers. But we are also creators. And without creation, I truly believe that we can wither and die.
If you need some inspiration, try these...
I know a guy Sam, who writes creatively...
Those video game montages?
Fran sings, this is her website...
Lauren is an inspiring artist!
My friend Dave writes songs too
There are so many more amazing people in my life who inspire me, these are just a few different areas of creativity I grabbed a handful of!