On Creating

There is a deep longing to create that resides within the souls of almost all humanity.

Beyond our natural instinct for survival which includes needs like water, food, warmth, and air; we also have the instinct to build and create, and this is independent of our survival instincts.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow thought that people reached stages of self-actualization by fulfilling certain needs first, after which they would graduate to a higher level of desire. But this theory doesn’t explain how it is that people, even in the most unfortunate of situations–ones in which their basic needs are not met–still long to create art, music, poetry, literature, and a legacy.

How is it that these Nigerian teens are able to learn and create believable sci-fi shots using a basic green screen in a garage with broken smartphones, when they haven’t secured all other needs?

Albert Einstein published his most groundbreaking scientific papers while living in a shack in Berlin, and none after his move to the fabulous environs of Princeton in the USA, and in the early 90’s, Olivier Messiaen composed the glorious Quartet for the End of Time while in a Nazi concentration camp.

Why is it that every culture, from the most tribal to the most “sophisticated” has a tradition of the arts? Perhaps our desire to create is deeply rooted in our most human of instincts.

If this is the case, then you do not need to second-guess your desire to create things and become more than you are. You are not crazy for having dreams that seem highly imaginative and unreasonable considering where you are and what you have.

Steve Jobs had crazy dreams. So does Elon Musk, Fred Swaniker, and Burna Boy. It is a instinct to create that which isn’t, make change, make art, contribute, and expend one’s self in the pursuit of fulfilllment in work and art.

Today’s technology makes it easy to create and distribute on scales bigger than ever imagined. We have marketplaces like Amazon and Aliexpress who cater to the whole world, and applications that enable you build other applications without code. There’s tutorials for almost every subject in every field.

At this time, creativity should be flowing out the pores of most of us, born with various gifts as easily as we exhale but there is a huge block. The constant exposure to new media, opportunities and life choices has diminished our understanding of ourselves. We’ve lost our self-knowledge.

The desire to create remains but the clarity on what to create isn’t there anymore. We change our minds easily, leave projects unfinished., and eventually get to the point where we do not believe in ourselves enough to start new projects because we know we likely won’t finish. External stimulation and imagery crowds out our originality and leads to perforation of creativity, lower self-esteem and rampant, uninspired art and business imitations.

The times we live in call for every fibre of our being to create, participate and contribute. The gatekeepers have been eliminated, and no one needs permission to become what they want to become. 

A lot of us are, unfortunately, stuck at the point before we realize who we are, what we’re here for, and what we want to create.

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