Not that creation, the big one, however you conceive of it, but the one that is waiting for your attention right now. We are creators, every day, and in this we have both freedom and responsibility. When we set our minds to a project, we go towards creating an outcome that we value and, typically, we give it our best shot. If we are artists or cooks or gardeners or many other things that involve creation, we may put our full heart and soul into our work (or play). Sadly, lives are often filled with long “to do” lists that don’t carry the joy or possibility or sense of creation that a beautiful dinner or a work of art does. And equally sadly, each of us may find that what we are creating in a day is not something that fills us with pleasure or pride.
Here’s a classic fable to consider.
Three stonemasons, in the middle ages, were hard at work when a visitor came along and asked them what they were doing. The first stonemason answered, sweat beading his brow. “I am cutting this huge, difficult stone,” he complained. The second stonemason responded with a sigh, “I’m building the parapet for this church.” The third stonemason, replied with a radiant smile, “I am building a beautiful cathedral that will glorify God for centuries to come.”
What we create is only a small piece of the equation. How we create is perhaps an even larger part. And what we create is not just something that shows up in form. A cathedral is something we will see when we are done. But look at all we create that does not survive, in any visible way, for centuries to come. The driver with some road rage? That person is creating something, though likely not noticing that any creation (creativity) is in process. Could be he or she creates an accident, but more likely that angry, tired, unhappy driver creates similar feelings in the driver in the next lane and takes home some rage that creates an unhappy part of the family experience in the evening.
Likewise, the person who finds your wallet and goes out of the way to get it back to you is creating something quite different: a good feeling in him or herself; gratitude in you; and more, perhaps that we won’t ever see.
- When you look back on your day, what have you created?
- Did you smile, creating in yourself (and the other) a positive feeling?
- Did you stop to smell the flowers (or appreciate the snow)?
- Have you told someone you cared?
- Have you created warm feelings, soft hugs, joyous laughter, quiet stillness?
With a commitment to self-compassion, you might also notice when you created hurt or confusion or disconnect. If you notice those things that are less than your ideal self and then give yourself a hard time about it, your creation will not be what you want. If you notice and allow your humaness to be ok, you'll probably have a better day tomorrow.
Potters have said that they lose 30% of their work somewhere between the wheel and the final firing. Some take the broken shards to create something new. Others learn from the mistakes and accept the perfect imperfection of art. Those that get frustrated and feel badly don’t make it as potters for very long. So too, in life, with or without pottery.
We are all creators, every day, in every way. Sometimes we make great art and sometimes we make a mess! That’s the truth of being human and perfectly imperfect. And we have choice and the possibility of continuing to create in fuller and richer ways.
I don’t want to be that angry driver or the person in the store who frowns. I don’t want to be the one who creates chaos or bad juju. So I get to start the great cathedral of my life again every morning. And every morning I aim to create my own gift to the world, one that will last through generations as a testimony to all that is beautiful. You may not see it, but your creation of goodness, kindness, love and compassion, for yourself and others will live on forever. In the garden, in the kitchen, in the car or in the cathedral you build.