Friday, March 15, 2013

Creative Despair

I was originally going to title this "Creative Fatigue," but that's not quite what I'm going after. I'm not burned out on any of my creative hobbies; if anything, I have more ideas now than I've had in a long time.

My grandmother commissioned me to make a necklace for her best friend, a woman who has always been our "Aunt Doris" despite not actually being family. I set to making it right away, and while I was working, thought, "What will happen to this after Aunt Doris dies?"

I'm not normally a morbid person; far from it. Nor do I have anything against Aunt Doris or wish to see her shuffle off this mortal coil sooner rather than later. But the issue of stuff has been weighing heavily on my mind recently, as I'm due to make a trans-Atlantic move this fall. I have stress dreams about suddenly losing or having to get rid of my stuff, then I wake up feeling panicked and not at all well-rested.

As I watch the jewelry I make pile up, I think about all of the stuff I'm contributing to the world. I'm contributing, and so is every other Etsy seller out there. I think about my Transcendental American heroes, Thoreau and Emerson: "Simplify, simplify, simplify!" I think about Buddhist teachings about non-attachment. I think about I am going to do with all the stuff  I have that might never find a new home. By contributing to other people's stuff  am I violating my own moral code?

I think about the Earth becoming terrible and inhospitable before we have a chance to get off it and try again on Mars. I think about the Sun going red giant before we get a chance to get out of this solar system. I think about the eventual heat death of the universe. What, really, does making all my little trinkets and baubles matter, in that scheme of things?

I'm sure every creative person must have this experience at one point or another. Thoughtful people think about these things, and creativity requires some measure of thoughtfulness.

I don't have a good answer. The best I can come up with is that creating makes me happy. It keeps me thinking, it keeps me engaged in life, it keeps me sharp. If other people enjoy what I create, so much the better. Ultimately, though, it's for me. It's a selfish answer, to be sure, but it's the best one I have at the moment.


  1. No, you are not alone! I have have many of the exact same thoughts! Like, what trash am I contributing to this planet by engaging in my jewelry-making? What good is it for, and what is the cost? I think your conclusion is valid. :) Keep on, craftin'!

    1. It's such a difficult question! If you ever think of any insights, please share. :)