What do you create?

The other evening I watched a video interview where this over-stuffed, over-privileged bloke tried to justify his gazillion dollar salary. He was part of the ‘executive branch’ of a gazillion dollar company that was stuffed to the gills with others of his ilk.

The interviewer was trying to pin down what he actually did to ‘earn’ his salary. He weasled around sprouting phrases like, ‘he was worth what he was being paid’, and ‘market value’ and other double-speak, but he never actually answered the question. (probably had politician genes)

Not that I expected him to, it was far too confronting for him to have to justify his existence to a mere reporter, and a woman at that.

Now, the arrogant execu-bloke and his ‘tude wasn’t a surprise, nor is he the point of this post, but as I watched I realised the interviewer was actually trying to get him to speak to what he created.

And that got me to thinking and remembering…

When I was a young thing and trying to figure out how the world worked and how it didn’t work and how it was supposed to work, I spent some time contemplating the nature of worth: self-worth, societal worth, what was wealth worth, how worth was tied into work, and what ‘work’ actually meant. Things of that nature.

So I did a little social experimenting with friends as accomplices. Every time the question of ‘what do you do’, was about to come up in a conversation, (usually in the getting-to-know-you phase)  we’d ask, “What do you create?” instead.

Answers like, ‘provide a safe haven for my self/kids/spouse/animal companions’, were common, as were vacant stares and ‘what?’s’, but most people got it after a bit of an explanation and interesting conversations ensued…

One in particular was a square blunt woman who had spent her life doing blue-collar jobs for minimum wages, living from paycheck to paycheck. Never waitressing though. (or any other ‘traditional’ women’s job) “Couldn’t stand being indoors.” Which had limited her choices even further.

Her answer was heartbreaking. “Look at me,” she said.

She meant her hands, rough, short nails with grit embedded under them, and her clothes, heavy fabric, loose because she was a ‘big’ woman, and her short gray hair that she ran her fingers through so that it stood out at all angles. (I looked, and I saw a powerful woman, but I didn’t say anything. I knew she wouldn’t hear me)

“I don’t create nothing.” she finished.

We chatted a bit more and just as she got up to leave, (we were, after all, just two women exchanging pleasantries in an outdoor cafe) I noticed that her clothes had patches and mends that were superb bits of sewing craftwomanship. (being a sewer myself I knew greatness when I saw it)

I commented on it and she sat back down. We spent the next couple of hours discussing all things sewing-ly. Over the course of the next few months we became friends and occasional lovers, but eventually drifted apart.

A few years later I received an invitation in the mail (a letter-with-a-stamp-on-it type of mail) to a bit of a fancy-dress ‘do’ with a ‘wear something you’ve created’ tagline. (I went as Bette Middler’s shoemaker – long story)

My sewing-and-occasional-lover-friend, had created her own line of clothing was about to head off for parts European.

She told me my zany ‘socially experimental question’ had saved her life. Not that she’d contemplated killing herself, but that she’d never really thought about the quality of being alive until then. Needless-to-say we both got a bit teary, had altogether too much champers, and … um … yeah.

Last I heard she was still going strong and happily married to the woman of her dreams … and earning squillions of dollars – from something she created.

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64 comments on “What do you create?

  1. Suzanne says:

    What a great question. It fits with the kind of questions I have been asking myself lately. Now I’ll put a question to you. How does the idea of what you create sit with ideas of aging? Particularly if one’s life journey has been one where opportunities to ‘make it’ in the creative fields have been curtailed by limiting circumstances – raising children alone, doing menial jobs just to get by etc.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Widdershins says:

      Heh, excellent return question. 🙂 … At this point in my life I’ve managed to find a generous portion of acceptance. I mean, I can’t really go back and change anything can I? … but there are days, when I RAGE at the unfairness of it. When my fury makes me want to unleash an armageddon that will erase all life throughout the universe. Thankfully, the impulse doesn’t last all that long. 😀

      Mostly I recognise that my time is now finite, and I must make choices that reflect that. And in order to do that I must be able to engage with my Self on a deeper level for longer periods of time. What are my motivations for doing something? Is the primary motivator ‘them’ (either a real or perceived/archetypal, ‘them’ … ‘supposed to’s’ and ‘should’s’, etc) or me? And I remind myself that their universe won’t end if their needs aren’t met, (by me) but mine just might.

      Which is a really long way of saying it only matters what we do from this point forward. 😀

      As for ‘making it’? What does that mean? Pull it apart, shred that sucker until you uncover all the history of its hidden little corners, and when you’ve got to the very bones of the matter, then build it according to what you, in this moment, and going-forward-ness, want it to mean.

      We live in a world that, for all its P.R. to the contrary, is actually reliant on conformity and restriction for its continued existence.

      Break that mold (making sure to keep your Self safe) and see what happens.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Suzanne says:

        Brilliant answer. Thanks.

        I’m increasingly aware of the finite nature of life and am really beginning to hone in on what I really want to do as opposed to what I think I should do.

        Like you I sometimes feel rage at the unfairness. I guess my question came out of an incident at a gallery this weekend where I became uncomfortably aware of ageist attitudes that assume that after a certain age you have nothing worthwhile to contribute to the world of art. (the irony is that this attitude came from a woman gallerist who has more wrinkles on her face than I do). I often come across attitude that if you were going to make it you would have made it years ago.

        Your reflections on what constitutes making it correspond with ideas I woke up thinking about this morning. Ultimately whether or not you ‘make it’ in worldly terms is irrelevant. What becomes more important later in life is the relationship with your own soul etc.

        All the same, there is a part of me that mutters ‘rage, rage against the dying of the light.’

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Sue Vincent says:

    That’s a great story…and a great question.Everyone has a gift… even if it can take a lifetime to find it out what it is.And they don’t all come neatly labelled 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  3. bone&silver says:

    Oh such a good story. I got goosebumps. Creativity is SO undervalued (deliberately by our capitalist societies of course), yet as far as I’m concerned it’s almost the only thing that really matters… especially when mixed with love.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I love your story. “What do you create?” is a very supportive way to live through life.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. One novel trilogy, until Pride’s Children is finished. It will have taken over 20 years of my life by then. It’s been worth it to me.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. This was definitely a great read Widds.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. jenanita01 says:

    I have only recently started to think this way, that nothing else matters except where we go from here. This thought alone has gradually begun to lift away all those years of frustration and impatience where we need so much more. So thank you for reminding me…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. catdownunder says:

    One of the things that really worries me is that creativity is being stifled in schools. Where’s the art, music, creative writing, craft and so on – especially the sort that you (having been taught how to make the circle or whatever) fill in for yourself. How much time do kids get to just sit and read? I read vast amounts as a child – and now write vast amounts. My job is creative – and (hopefully) means I can help other people go out and save lives.
    And hey, if you can knit we can talk about it for hours!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Widdershins says:

      Exactly. Knitters of the world, unite!

      I agree, there’s been so much emphasis on STEM subjects(Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) that they forgot the only thing that allows those disciplines to achieve greatness is the ‘A’ of Arts.

      Like

  9. raunchel says:

    As someone who is notoriously uncreative, the answer to such a question is rather difficult. I would be tempted to say knowledge, but then again, that’s what everyone in science would say. And even then, a lot of time is being wasted. Aside from that, I don’t think that I create anything in my other work, so I don’t really create much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Widdershins says:

      It can be a tough concept to deconstruct. The poor wee word has so many societal expectations loaded on to it, to say nothing of our own list of ‘supposed to’s’ and ‘should’s’. (which by their very nature were originally externally imposed)

      Also, so what if ‘everyone’ says ‘knowledge’? That doesn’t make it any less true for you.

      Creativity can be something as simple as making a damn fine grilled cheese-n-mater sammich, (which I’m trying to eat as I type – not a good idea! 🙂 ) and it doesn’t have to be the creation of physical things. Your blog posts are creations, and they too are ‘damn fine’ deliverers of information … so thinking this through … perhaps ‘knowledge’ (deconstructed so it has meaning for you) is your thing? If nothing else it’s a damn fine place to start … I’m gonna stop saying ‘damn fine’ now and go eat my sammich. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  10. acflory says:

    I’ve always had ‘projects’, but I didn’t realise it was the creativity I craved until I first sat down to write fiction. Story telling brought together my disparate passions and gave me an outlet for all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Olga Godim says:

      I was 46 when I first started writing. But I made up stories all my life. As I didn’t write them down, I couldn’t say I was a writer. In the eyes of everyone, myself included, I was a daydreamer. It took me a while to fix that label in my own eyes, and I don’t really care what the others think of me. Not anymore. I know I’m a writer. My daydreaming was a path that led me to where I am now. It’s still leading me to some interesting places.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Widdershins says:

        So many wonderful stories, right here in these comments. 🙂

        Like

      • acflory says:

        Oh my…you’ve just told the story of my life!! I was a daydreamer too, but I always saw myself as too practical, too unimaginative to write the kind of stories I loved to read. Took a long long time to find the courage to call myself a writer.
        Thank you so much. It’s so nice to know my experience wasn’t some kind of weird one-off! -hugs-

        Liked by 1 person

    • Widdershins says:

      Sometimes writing a story feels like you get to wave a magic wand and all those disparate bits of knowledge come together on the page. 😀 … and sometimes they don’t. That’s when we swear, a lot! 🙂

      Like

  11. A wonderful, thought provoking, story, Widders. (“Creating” to my Northern grandparents meant throwing a tantrum)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That’s a great and inspirational story, Widdershins. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Olga Godim says:

    You know, you created her. With your funky question, you liberated that woman’s creativity, pointed out that what she creates has value. How does it feel to be the godmother of a creator?
    What do I create? I create stories. I did even when I didn’t write them down. Since I remember myself, I’ve always created stories and characters in my head. Writing them down, publishing them made me a writer, but I think I had the creative gene from my birth.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This is a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Elisa says:

    so incredible! i just love this post and this story and this powerful impact of your mind and heart, the impact of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a wonderful story, thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. How Beautiful!
    You gave her the gift of a lifetime. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Adele Marie says:

    Wow, what an amazing story, you helped that woman without knowing you did it. Good on you.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. tidalscribe says:

    One of the few things I think I learned from economics at school is that all trade and work is originally based on producing food – we all need food and someone must grow it, then others have jobs based on collecting and distributing… But what could be more important than creating food? I still have difficulty getting my head around the fact that so few people are directly involved in the production of food; how does that base support so many other jobs in the world? I used to say to my father ‘but what do you actually do at the office?’ and he would reply ‘write letters’ – not too far from the truth I fear.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Roxie says:

    That’s a perfect question! Fair, and no pretense associated with the do equals am part. It’s inspiring to read about your quiet influence. We never know, usually I should say, if people are better because our paths crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

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