A while back I was on one of my good old, long ass walks (exploring London on foot never gets boring, this city is just too magnificent). Apparently I looked highly approachable on that particular day, no less than five people I’d never seen before got into conversation with me. I’m always happy to talk to someone new, especially when the person who’s trying to persuade me into opening my brain up to them seems interesting. Some were, some less, and that’s all fine. One of them asked me out for a coffee. Free caffeine? YES!
And so we had a bit more time to talk, walking along the Thames and enjoying the last few minutes of sunlight. We talked about ourselves, what we did, who we were, where we wanted to be. And as we stumbled onto the topic of creativity, I asked him what his creative outlet was. He told me he didn’t have one, which is something I’m used to hearing, for some people it takes a while to find something they really love getting lost in. Then he said something that did shock me slightly: ‘I used to draw a lot, but when I figured out that wasn’t going to pay my bills, I quit.’ My eyes went big and my heart stopped for a second.
‘Wait. Wait. Ho.. Wha.. Wait, what? That’s just.. Ugh, no, I can’t say that, I don’t want to be mean.’ I was fighting to keep my thoughts inside, since I didn’t want to be rude. ‘It’s fine, just say it.’ He seemed eager to hear my true response. ‘That’s really damn stupid.’ I blurted out, setting free the little truth monsters. ‘I mean, how do you even live without being creative? Were you any good?’ ‘Yeah, I was pretty great actually.’ he laughed. ‘Then why the hell would you stop doing it? It doesn’t have to pay the bills to be something you have to do, you have to do it just for the sake of enjoying what you do.’ He looked a bit unsettled by my little outburst and we went on talking about something else.
I know lots of people did exactly the same thing as my coffee pal for the day, and that breaks my heart. Creativity is something that will always fill you up with joy, if you find something you really enjoy doing. And as I said before, I know some people have a hard time finding that one thing they can lose all track of time with, and that’s okay, you just have to keep looking and trying new things. Follow your curiosity and you’ll get there. But when you already know what it is you love, what you can do at all times to unleash the creative creature within you, and especially when that’s something you’re actually kind of good at as well, then don’t let that go.
“To yell at your creativity, saying “You must earn money for me!” is kind of like yelling to a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re going to do is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
Indeed, it may not pay your bills. It may not even get you any money at all. But who the hell cares?! Because it does give you something. Something bigger and far more amazing. It gives you the feeling of having made something. The sense of being a creator. It makes you lose whole nights on projects that take up every string of thought. It makes you go mental for a second, and then you get to burst with excitement because it goes your way for once and that’s amazing. You get to put something out into the world, something that’s purely you, a little piece of your soul to share with others. You in your pure form.
That’s why we do it. We do it for the love of doing it. We do it because we love it and because it loves us. Amazing.