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Ruminating on creative angst


I’ve been feeling particularly creative lately. Curious again. Yet still tired, the way parents of young children are. The way employees of busy companies are. In a prior life being in a creative mood was a time for fun. For hacking and making mistakes. Learning new things and putting them down. Putting them on the shelf, which was not yet so full as to be its own sense of anxiety.

Now the past weighs on me. The idea of creating something again is exciting. And scary. What if its not good, like it usually isn’t? What if I don’t complete it, like I usually don’t. What will I do when the creative period ends, and I have nothing to show for it. Nothing complete. Nothing to be particularly proud of.

And yet, being creative is who I am, I think. Hesitation, doubt, shame (of unfinished things) hold it back. But is that right? Creating anything at all makes me feel… alive. Very alive. And well. And happy. And its usually nothing at all. The simplest creation brings the most profound sense of joy and content.

What does that mean? Does it need to mean anything? I thought this feeling would pass, but it won’t. Its right on the edge of my normal life, begging me to dive in without any particular kind of vision for what to do. Except to do something and go with it. And put it aside and without feeling guilt, make something else. And to keep going. As though the path will open up; the purpose revealed.

But isn’t that how I got here? Expending my time and energy on creating nothings that were for nothing and went nowhere. Great ideas, half done. A novel under the desk. Is there a difference between someone who never finishes anything, from someone who never starts?

Lamenting what might not be doesn’t seem to feel any better. Planning takes energy, but my kids and my job get all of that. Yet, maybe the only problem is thinking it has to be anything at all. Maybe making a mess is not something to be afraid of, but something to be proud of. Or maybe, something to accept. And maybe acceptance is the thing to take pride in, instead. And the trail of little messes, half thoughts, experiments, learnings. Learning is fun. Trying is fun. Maybe its not the kind of mess to be ashamed of.