Saturday, June 11, 2011

pride and prejudice of your own creations

do any of my fellow creative people ever find yourself in this duality of knowing how much skill and time and effort goes into a project, but also feeling that your own work isn't as good as something you bought from the store? even once you understand how something is made that doesn't seem to erase the ingrained belief that you can't or shouldn't do it yourself. our culture has done a good job of beating into our heads that ALL food, clothing, shelter, jewelry, booze, entertainment, and everything else MUST be manufactured entirely by experts who've spent decades perfecting the art or by machines in factories (or child labor). it never used to be this way. this is a phenomenon that the industrial revolution and mass media forced upon us. yes, it's convenient to be able to buy a pair of flip flops for 2.99 at any big box store in the summer, but at what cost does that come? who made them? what enviromental impact did that have? will they even last or will i have to replace them in a month? what if i did make them myself? i could use other materials; recycled or sustainable or at least more durable. i would know they were good quality and not made by a 7 year old making $0.20 a day. would they be as uniform as all the rows and rows on the shelves? of course not, i don't have nearly as much practice. what they would be is unique and probably better if not just as good. they might be entirely recycled stuff or they might cost 2-3 times as much in materials, does that make them worse or better? no. i'll also be able to fix them, should they break, and have the pride of saying "i made them myself". this is a concept that was far more common a few generations ago. our grandparents did not have this disposable attitude that you would just buy new anytime something was less then perfect. they fixed things that were broken, or made a replacement themselves, and you know what? there's a reason they say things like "they just don't make things like they used to", it's true! now everything is made by machine or by underpaid labor instead of by hand with pride, and it's designed to fall apart so you buy more things. the idea that you can't do stuff for yourself was specifically impressed upon us in order to make us buy more things. that doesn't make it true. what it does is create a society of stunted human animals who are incapable of providing even the basic necessities of life for themselves. we're relied on others to do things for us for so long that we're starting to lose these basic arts. from cooking to making clothes to animal husbandry and gardening to making a shelter to making music and storytelling. these used to be vital arts that everyone knew. some were better at one thing then another, which is how we ended up with cities where you have a butcher and a baker and seamstress, etc and we gathered to share our skills. now we gather just to make it easier to get to our jobs (many of which are NOT essential in the world, don't kid yourself, my own included) and to get to stores where we buy things that were made by nameless people in a land far far away. there is something seriously wrong with that. what happened to our pride in our work? what happened to self sufficiency and quality and community? how can we get them back? it starts with trying out doing something for yourself that you could just as easily pay someone else to do; something you're interested in and will enjoy the results of. then it becomes a matter of retraining yourself with the proof of your own experience that you CAN do most things yourself and it IS just as good, if not better then what you can buy in the stores, and is often cheeper and healthier. another thing i've found helps is to name your creations. don't call it "some fruit wine i brewed in a bucket", call it "black cherry shiraz" or something and serve it to your friends. their reviews will help you appreciate the end result. remember that your simplified system is usually only a smaller setup then what's found in factories but you're not adding scary chemicals and yours was made with a lot more care and attention. bear in mind that not all your experiments will work and that's ok. you learn from the mistakes and the next time is better. get it knocked right out of your head that you CAN'T do something. of course you can if you want to learn how, and who knows when these things will come in useful?

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