During a long car ride this week the conversation focused on making things and the process of creating something from scratch. I like to make things with words. Sometimes I see something and it is so meaningful. I long to define and describe what I see so others can see it too. My art is flawed and yet I strive for perfection. I obsess over grammatical errors and I commit them all the time. In my childhood copy of Charlotte’s Web there are large loopy edits throughout the pages. I’m certain E.B. White did not need my assistance and yet I poked holes in his beloved work. When I think too long about my own imperfection, I get lost in it. Part of the process of creating is sending works of art into the world for all eyes to see, flawed and whole and beautiful.
My son is curious about how to put his creative vision into action. He wants to make a robot that flies. There are tons of flying machines, but he has something specific in mind. I encouraged him to start somewhere, the body for instance, then add a wing or a leg or whatever. He wondered how someone would make a leg that moved and I said he should look at how legs move. He wondered what material he should use so he started a brainstorming list of things to try. A good way to start creating is by asking questions. Eventually the doing is the only way. He could get lost in his thought process and there would never be a robot. Or, he can start to try and learn as he goes. Through curiosity and exploration he will teach himself the steps needed to continue.
As I challenged my son to do, I’ve decided to tackle new learning in bite size pieces. Once a month I meet with a writing mentor. She was one of my high school English teachers. There is no problem looking to experts for advice and guidance. She pushes me to be a little more polished and encourages me to reach a bit further in my writing. She is a sounding board and voice of reason when my words start to stray. I can’t get lost in her suggestions, though. I have to try things on my own. She tells me to change the sentence if I don’t know the rule.
We could wrestle with the concept of a project forever. We could struggle with making it just so. Or we can change the sentence. The rules cannot prevent us from making art. The fear and anticipation of how the project will form and shape and eventually end should not stop us from starting.
As fear should not stop our art, neither should it stop us from connecting with others. There is a certain art to our relationships as well. We can start with tiny bits and pieces of understanding and search for greater meaning. We can ask questions to develop further understanding. We can get lost in our own imperfections as we search for perfection in others. Or, we can change the sentence, our own sentence, and write a different story. Part of building relationships is to start from scratch and learn as we go, creating something that is flawed and whole and beautiful in the process.