I just read a fantastic blog post called Why I Want to Die Empty by Todd Henry. (Found it on Ali Edwards’ blog.) Sounds depressing, but it’s a really beautiful defense of “unnecessary creating” and how important it really is to have a creative outlet and some self-directed time. The reality is that most of us, even the smartest and most creative among us, spend most of our lives doing necessary things that make sure that we have a roof over our heads and food on the table and that our loved ones are well cared for. My work is so demanding that often I have no energy for anything else at the end of the day. No time to change the world, just focusing on getting by. But sometimes the private knowledge that I’m capable of so much more than just getting by eats away at me.
My favorite part of Todd Henry’s blog post is:
To that end, one method for emptying yourself, especially if your day job can’t contain all of your ideas, is to set regular time to create things for the sheer joy of it. I call this “unnecessary creating” because it gives you permission to express ideas that don’t neatly fit into your daily create-on-demand work.
Lately I’ve been putting a lot of my limited spare time into quilting and other crafts. It doesn’t always feel like the best use of time, and sometimes it cuts into my sleeping time! But it seems to heal me in a way that I wasn’t able to articulate myself until I read this blog post. My day job definitely falls into the “create-on-demand” category most of the time. I’m constantly putting out fires and responding to various people’s demands on my time. I am lucky that my work is interesting and relatively important and I get to do a lot of writing and creative thinking as part of my work, but I’m not exactly writing Pulitzer Prize material here, and it’s always for someone else, never for me.
I think this is really speaking to me today in large part because my amazing grandmother is nearing the very end of her (long and happy) life. It’s definitely triggering some kind of “how will I feel about my life when I’m 90 years old?” emotion.