Creativity

Optic Nerve

Creativity can only fuel certain fires. It doesn't always lead to a place of sustenance. What many of us creative folk face when presented with both roads is both the itch and the reluctance to try to blend them both together.

A canvas is waiting. Run your fingers gently across the surface and feel the naked texture begging for your impression. Look closely at the terrain. It will remain still and lifeless until you pick up your tool, find your medium and begin.

Sometimes the hardest part about bring a creative is starting. How many hours have I wasted on formulating a design that never made it beyond my planner? It’s not enough to see it in the mind. That vision needs a burning fire behind it, one so hot that, if we don’t act, the whole house will burn down. It takes nerve to create. But is there more needed to make a life as a creative dreamer?

Creativity can only fuel certain fires. It doesn’t always lead to a place of sustenance. What many of us creative folk face when presented with both roads is both the itch and the reluctance to try to blend them both together.

A few years ago, I found my way into the world of tiny houses. I was incidentally living in a 12×12 room. My personal possessions had been pared down to just a few precious keepsakes, my clothing and my bed. So when the opportunity to jump into this unknown world of houses on wheel came along, it was a ride I was mentally prepared for, or so I thought. Little did I realize that I would be setting myself onto a path that would alter my life and my perspective for years to come.

It’s an interesting thing to join a venture from the starting point. It was a fun and eclectic little family. The two partners of this tiny house company could not have been more different. One was a man whose mind lived in the world of numbers and statistics. His drive was to create a business model that would take a singular idea and turn it into something with grandeur. The other was an endless well of creativity and the reluctant founder of the modern tiny house movement. His vision of life was a simple one; a man who relished little means and a small list of pleasures. For a time, this little amalgam worked. Along with a brilliant graphic designer, a woman whose talents were often matched by her perpetual graciousness, our little team hummed along, creating a business template that would soon be duplicated by many others. Over time, it became apparent to me that, while the desire to be successful was there, the inner vision of each partner was simply too divergent.

Things get complicated when there are two different views of success. The drive to create financial succeed is rapacious and unyielding; it’s a cruel master that can propel its adherents to dark places and dead ends. Conversely, creativity can only fuel certain fires. It doesn’t always lead to a place of sustenance. What many of us creative folk face when presented with both roads is both the itch and the reluctance to try to blend them both together. It helps that some have created a workable amalgam of both aims. We know we need to eat and we know we must create. There has to exist a tenable way to dip toes into both streams or find a way to bring these two rivers together. I’m not sure why so many of us fear the talk of funding our creative life. It might be because we’ve seen so many fingers become dirtied and arthritic from the stain and strain of greed. Or perhaps we believe that once a numerical value has been placed on what we create, it somehow becomes less so. I will readily admit to having a blend of both in my veins.

The little tiny house company grew into something bigger and soon found itself miles away from the ethos that birthed it. A bigger company eventually swallowed it up in an unsettling cloud of publicity. The other partner, the dreamweaver behind the original concept, has found himself with little less than what he began with. What’s been intriguing for me, is to see the power of his original vision. Tiny houses of every shape and size have stayed in the consciousness of fans and followers for an astonishingly long time. It’s debatable whether this type of living breeds longevity. Many find the homes enchanting but the euphoria wears off for most and these dwellings can become empty shells. But the idea of them and the freedoms they promise seems to have an incredible shelf life. I still have lingering dreams of seeing the founder finding some other way to a successful realization of his original vision, but I’m not really sure that will ever happen. I also don’t believe he has the drive to be more than he is right now: a singular and lighthearted dreamer with a concept for simplicity that few understand.

I’ve sat in the shadows, looking at this unique timeline and have tried to extrapolate some lessons from what I’ve witnessed. What is clear to me now is that having a vision requires guidance. No matter how noble and winsome, there has to be a path that allows for both authenticity and productivity. It’s OK to want to sustain oneself with a dream, but the dream has to be sustained with a healthy dose of reality. Materialism is a disease and curse, but creating material sustenance is not.

Look at that canvas again. Let’s face the facts that every single tool we’ll use to turn it into a work of art has a price and it’s OK to purchase. Don’t let your inner vision die from either inactivity or poor planning. If it’s to take root, it needs to be planted in the soil of realistic expectations. Dream big, plan bigger.

Brett Torrey Haynes is an artist, graphic designer and WordPress aficionado who also has a thing for modern handmade goods.

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