When You Don't Create Things

As I was gazing through the stone sculptures by artist José Manuel Castro López, I couldn't resist thinking about the irony of working on stones instead of working with them.

Making something interesting from something mundane has been vital for us humans. Our tools, art, literature, fashion, food, and many digital creations today share this common theme.

But, while some people find satisfaction in carving stones, some people find pleasure in throwing stones on others.

For makers, problems worth solving are like stones. Hard, everywhere around us, indistinctive at times. A maker would pick many stones by the river, but only carve on a chosen one. Carving something surreal, like fabric wrinkles on a stone, is a solution to curiosity. Giving shape to an idea is a manifestation of one's opinion, many times serving a practical purpose.

Painstaking, long work with the chisel on a stone gives way to an artifact. It becomes a body of work, with a legacy, and a big one too if it resonates with many other beings.

But, what is an artifact really?

(noun) an object made by a human being, typically one of cultural or historical interest.

Any human creation, however mundane or magnificent, is an artifact. It's an artifact for its maker first, and then it may go on to touch other like-minded admirers.

There are thousands if not millions of poems about love, writings about ambition, films about coming-of-age, songs about heart-break, and everything else about everything that's possible or imaginable. Each one is unique, because it reflects its makers heart & mind.

With an abundance of artifacts, should we stop making new ones? Should we curb our creative or intellectual instincts, just because it may not be unique enough or as popular as we expect it to become?

Not many people may know or remember _why. He was a prolific coder in the Ruby programming community, unusual writer, cartoonist, and an inspiring maker of things.

_why disappeared over a decade ago, but left behind artifacts of his work.

He once said:

When you don't create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. Your tastes only narrow and exclude people. So create.

When I hear armchair opinionists in tech, politics, economics or social spheres, with strong views on things they have no hands-on experience with, and no intention to take any constructive action either, I just hope they mold their opinions with some artifacts of their own.

Creating an artifact of your own, in your own space, in your own time, is by far the most therapeutic activity capable of compounding results. Done often, it's a door to self-actualization. Done good, it's a treasure of esteem and wealth.

It doesn't need to be perfect, grand, or aim for popularity. The real value is in the process of creating something, which itself is liberating.

And it's not that creating something is hard. Much of what looks hard is laziness.

That's the essence of procrastination. It's a fear of no immediate reward. I feel the breakthrough to overcome this is to keep the scope small and make the reward intrinsic, which is in our control more than external stimuli.

I'm proud to be an indie maker. I have great respect for makers of things, be it something small or big, obscure or popular.

For others on the fence, I will suggest making an artifact, anything.

Start, do as much, and then finish it. Show and tell. Rinse and repeat.

Create, to shape your mind.

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