“Man unites himself with the world in the process of creation” (Erich Fromm).

IN ONE SENSE, WE CAN’T REALLY “MAKE” ANYTHING; WE CAN ONLY REARRANGE WHAT’S ALREADY BEEN MADE. But what marvelous rearrangements we can sometimes achieve! A world in which things like the Eiffel Tower or the Egyptian Pyramids can be made is a world that easily qualifies for the term “amazing.”

In the taxonomy of living things, we categorize ourselves as homo sapiens, the species that “knows.” But we could just as accurately designate ourselves, homo faber, the species that “makes.” We’re a “making” bunch of creatures if ever there was one. Never content with what is, we’re always taking what we find at hand and making something new out of it. It’s instinctive to us, and we find great pleasure in it.

Have you ever wondered why we make so many things and why we derive such satisfaction from it? What motivates us in our making? Igor Stravinsky said, “In order to create there must be a dynamic force, and what force is more potent than love?” I think he’s right. In the end, it’s almost always love that drives us to create. We love the process of making, we love the thing made once it’s finished, and we love, especially and most powerfully, those for whom it is made. Of all the things we make, none are of greater quality and worth than those we make out of love — and then dedicate to the other person.

It is good for us to keep alive the urge to bring new things into being. For many obvious reasons, we tend to take on fewer new projects when we reach old age, but even then it’s healthy to keep pushing ourselves to create. Every day there is something new we can make, even if it’s only a small thing, and it’s good for us to keep on trying.

Some of the most honorable traits that can be built into the human character come from the effort to create. Makers (as opposed to those who just consume what others make) have good reasons to keep their integrity. They tend to be trustworthy, and we’d do well to borrow some of their motivation. When we’re making, we’re moving forward, and more often than not, that’s the direction we need to go!

“Let a human being throw the energies of his soul into the making of something, and the instinct of workmanship will take care of his honesty” (Walter Lippmann).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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