So I am sat here on a sunny Good Friday, Deadmou5 on, and suitably gluten free falafel and a can of cherryade on my desk and I stare around my office which has been cleared if not sorted (a couple of give-away crates) and looks like a creative space and not a primary school war zone.
As I look around, as I really look around, I start to examine myself as a creative person, and I try to avoid the distractions of Instagram, Twitter, Medium, Spotify, SoundCloud, Right Relevance, Facebook, even the books on the shelf and the latest self-improvement best seller I am going to read and lend out. Plus, I could always procrastinate by cleaning the cars (one each 19 and 14 years old, but), or listing stuff on Facebook buy and sell or eBay, the possibilities get a bit endless.
The point starts to really hit me in the face as I look around my office and see all the things I have accumulated, the walls are full, there are shelves whose sole purpose is to display the trinkets or hot-wheels cars I find worthy of cherishing, and that isn’t starting on the things in boxes I wish I had room to display and have been on display. I am not a creator, I am a consumer, I have been telling myself a great big lie.
Becoming self-aware that I am far more the consumer than I have been a creator, perhaps far more than I could ever be a creator, hit me like one of those metaphorical brick walls. The reality was stark, I was going to easily be more of a consumer than I would ever be a creator, yet I was not suddenly hit by an urge to create all the things. Far from this, I really hit a sanguine creative funk, sort of dark, sort of light, intensely questioning, insanely self-cynical, and woefully self-destructive and objectionably anti creativity. Passion was a shawl to wear, and emotional outer garment concealing the empty derision and darkness of the slightly lost soul.
These thoughts and feelings were stirred by the acute awareness of self-indulgence.
I was so caught up in myself while at the same time I was externally realising the grandiose self-importance I was granting an inner dialogue of no consequence, not only to anyone around me, but also outside the context of the importance I had decided to give it in order that I could feel fulfilled and important as a creative artist. This was born in the insecurity that I was a fraud and a phoney, the same imposter syndrome that had blighted my academic and profession life was rearing it head in the creative context as some sort of worthy artistic existential dilemma. Existential dilemmas are what artists and creative people have after all, don’t they?
It is one thing to realise that what you are doing is neither constructive nor necessary, and it is another to change from it and admit to yourself that you went down a rabbit hole for no reason other than the notion of a self-image that was constructed via passed on half drawn media stereotypes. Change is the difficult part, as Tony Robbins’ says, the decision to change takes an instant, it is the product of that change and seeing that change through that takes the time. Time is the part I am in. I say that, yet here I am writing about changing from consumption to creation looking at tripods for my camera and microphones so I can better experiment with video. It feels like every act of creation is somehow predicated on a consumptive act; be that paper to write, on ink for my pen, a journal to write in, paint, materials – no act of creation seems without a cost of entry. Blogging has my lowest point of entry, simply because I have the tools already, along with writing because I have those tools too. However, beyond those two, everything has had a consumptive entry point, creation has consumption as an entry point that I seem powerless to escape. I feel I am cornering myself; I want to lower my consumption, in part to justify my hoarding and collecting habits by minimising in other ways, but also because I have genuinely seen that I was consuming for the sake of it, and hoarding out of a misplaced sense of security through material goods, relevant, obsolescent or obsolete, it did not matter, rather than seeing the real value in storing up relationship credits through investment in people and meaning.
I had not come to realise that creation was not words on page, or “art” in a formal sense, creation was the network of positive relationships I could build to lift and support others and be lifted and supported, in a somewhat over used phrase perhaps, love people without expectation and be loved without expectation too. I feel that my creative consumptive journey had travelled no distance in terms of material things, other than a commitment to shedding the things that lacked meaning, importance or utility, which is my way of keeping a bunch of junk that I like, while also getting rid of, and not letting a whole bunch of things in, to take up space I want to devote to that other more meaningful or practical junk. It also pushed me more into building relationships, towards seeing the future as creative both in the artistic sense, but with me taking a certain negative pressure off that, but also in the relationship sense, using stories, art and communication to give people permission to successfully be themselves and to grow, learn, share and be who they want to be, rather than chasing external approval; chase happiness through feeling approved of by themselves not an external agency.
All that being said, and my creative mission taking shape, part of me still wants that ever-elusive world title, which is the paradox, perhaps, that makes me and the rest of magnificently human, and while I think of it, that pursuit requires only travel, time and effort, membership and entry fees, not material purchases, so for a while entry is without cost at all and definitely fits the requirement of no more junk, and definitely does build social relationships that are supportive and positive as we all strive for the same goals against much the same challenges.