Go Ahead. Create Something!

There is an impulse deep within you that longs for expression. When we set about the business of creating something, we give of ourselves. When we give of ourselves in this way, we contribute to the great symphony that is Life. We become a part of the music of the universe. The ancient pyramids. The works of Picasso.  The automobile. The Rolling Stones. Toilet paper. The compound mitre saw. The martini. Our is a world filled with the marvels (and disasters) of creation. Often, people are never happier than when they are creating. They experience what Csikszentmihalyi calls Flow

In the state of flow, we are fully engaged. The trick is that to experience flow we must involve ourselves in a task that is sufficiently challenging and sufficiently rewarding. Take on something too difficult and you will not feel especially inspired nor will you experience success. Take on something too easy, and you will experience success, perhaps, but not satisfaction. Find the right balance in a task that engages you, and you find flow. The state of flow is typically accompanied by a feeling of timelessness. Hours often pass like minutes. You look up at the clock shocked to find it is already time for bed.

When you create, you tap into a timeless, eternal dimension. It might be writing a song, composing a poem, constructing a fence, baking a pie, inventing a recipe, taking a photograph, building a motor, developing software. The important thing is to create, to innovate. Do not write a song because you want a number one record. Write a song because it is in your heart and wants to get out. Let the universe take care of the rest. I have no issue with you wanting a number one record, nor do I take issue with you being business savvy about your creativity. In fact, I applaud it. However, your happiness rests in the act itself. Hollywood actors and professional athletes may be paid exorbitant amounts of money, but most of them who are really good derive their happiness from the work itself. Van Gogh was never famous during his own lifetime. Would we say he should have given up painting?

No more excuses. Creating is not about trying to be the best. It may be that cooking is your thing. Or maybe you knit. Or you carve things. Whatever it is, know that when you create, you allow yourself a form of expression that is transcendent. What was possible is realized. You reach into the eternal source and make something manifest. As a result, you expand.

Some years ago, a group of Tibetan monks visited my hometown of Vancouver. Over the span of many hours, possibly even days, they patiently placed coloured pieces of sand just so using a unique tapping method to create an intricately beautiful mandala. The finished product was nothing short of breathtaking. I was sure the piece would be preserved in a museum or monastery somewhere to be admired for decades to come. I was wrong. To my utter surprise, upon completion of the elaborate piece, the monks walked it into the ocean, and placed it under water. You could see looks of pain on people’s faces. The monks, however, remained calm. How could all those hours have been spent creating something so beautiful, grain of sand by grain of sand, only to destroy it? As you can probably guess, itwas a profound display of the return to nothingness, the source that underlies all that is.

More than this, the mandala that dissolved into the sea is a powerful reminder that even in a world where forms are fleeting and ephemeral, there is inherent value in the act of creating. This is the dance of the cosmos. The ebb and flow. Rise and fall. Birth and death. Whatever your thing, do it. Life is short. So go ahead. Big or small, create something. I dare you!


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