I’ve been listening to Jonathan Fields’ Good Life Project podcasts for several months now, and while I glean something valuable from every episode, the most recent one felt quite special and seemed to reach me at “just the right time.” The “riff” (a short, spoken-word piece based on personal thoughts, according to Jonathan) is titled “The Unbearable Lightness of Making“, and in a little over ten minutes, Jonathan (a “recovering lawyer”) takes listeners through his own experience reconnecting with his maker self.
Connecting. It’s a powerful concept that is so often sought between or among people but not nearly as often within one person. Jonathan also talks about respecting the raw materials, seeing the potential and being mindful of constraints (which are, after all, the seedlings of creativity), seeking “connection not perfection” in the components and the activity itself.
I wouldn’t say I was always that person who was crafty and particularly blessed in the artistic department. You know, the kid who always drew, the teen who doodled letters on their homework, the young adult who went off to art school to pursue their passion–I had friends like that, sure, but that wasn’t me. I’ve been fortunate enough to have brushes with art and crafting through the videography, photography, and web design careers I’ve pursued over the past decade, though I’ve still somehow felt very removed from that world.
Until last year, when I realized just how badly I wanted in, and went for it.
Not because of the tremendous up-cropping of online DIY resources and staggering influx of craft-related Pins of the last few years, though those have certainly been very helpful and encouraging. But because it just felt like something I had to do. Something I must do (thanks, Elle Luna). Something I can’t not do (thanks, Scott Dinsmore). I won’t go into too many details about the path that led me here (that’s a long story for another time), but suffice it to say that listening to yourself—truly, purposefully rejecting all the noise—is the one key for figuring out what you want out of life. Not just Life, but your day-to-day experience as well, which in fact is life.
But anyway. All I need to know right now in order to continue making things with my hands is the way it makes me feel. The kind of person I become. Because when I work with my hands, I see with my heart. And seeing with your heart, in tandem with listening to yourself, is the most powerful tool a creative can possess. Seeing with your heart helps a photographer find stories and details others might overlook. Seeing with your heart helps a sculptor envision the figure in the block of stone. Seeing with your heart helps a chef gather the ingredients that will best convey the pleasure he wants to bring his diners.
When I work with my hands, I am not so removed from the Thing—I am right there with it, touching the fabric, peeling the fruit, smearing the ink all over my sleeve. I cannot help but connect emotionally, to be more open with my work and with the world I’m creating it for. That’s the “lightness” making brings to my life. How about you? What role does making/crafting play in your life?