Just Making Versus Making for Good

Weathered wall with texture and grafitti. Jane Pellicciotto

Does the world need more jewelry, I’ve been asking myself. Knowing that many of our thoughts are of the devil-on-the-shoulder variety, I know not to take all of them seriously.

But as I embark on making jewelry, I fall into a familiar pattern of wondering if I’m doing any real good. I’ve volunteered steadily since my early twenties but this idea of feeling useful is so engrained in me, the source of which is not entirely healthy. As in, do I deserve to just do something that I enjoy doing? For those who can’t relate to this question, lucky you!

The creative path is necessarily filled with pitfalls such as self doubt, fear of running out of ideas, worrying your work won’t be well received. The shouldn’t I be doing good question is just another one of those pitfalls to thwart your process. I’m always motivated to put my skills and ideas to use in ways that benefit the world at large but it’s important to examine your default thoughts to see what they’re really telling you.

I shared this idea with a friend and I thought her response was worth sharing:

Making beautiful things and offering them to the world is in itself a beautiful act. There is so much pain and confusion in the world, and we simply can’t shoulder it all, at least not if we’re to stay sane. Making art, making jewelry, cooking good food for friends, making music, they are all ways to reconnect with something that goes deeper than the world’s confusion and chaos. To me it seems really necessary to keep making that connection. It’s not recognized as “socially important” the way say, volunteering at a shelter is, but I think on some level it’s an important contribution to the spiritual/social health of the community.

Inherent in my friend’s comment is the idea that there are two parts to creative output: one is the thing itself; the other is the act of doing (the process). Any act of creation is a healing act that starts with ourselves. The more we nourish our own well being, the more we can show up in the world in the way we want to. Our creative actions also have the potential to spread outwards. You never know who you’ll inspire with your own creative acts just as you can’t always pinpoint who has inspired you. Often it’s the fact that you are engaging in a creative act or the thoughts you share about your process that impact others, and not the work itself. I’m more moved by how people tackle, embrace and respond to a creative calling than I am to their work.

Another take on the act of making art by Seth Godin: “Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.”

This is why surrounding yourself with people on a creative journey is important.

Just make your art.

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