A Very Dangerous Lie

I'm sitting here on a lazy Sunday morning, browsing around on some of my favorite blogs.  

It strikes me as bizarre that as I sit here, at my least inspiring (woke up late, still in my pajamas, avoiding my work), I am perusing a bunch of projects that represent other people at their most inspiring.


It is in my lame state of consumption that I always seek out other people in their epic state of creation. It's weird to have these two realities bumping up against each other.


It's highlighting for me a weird reality of creation.


Projects that were brought into the world with all the pain, toil, and struggle that is necessarily involved in human creation float by on my screen, masquerading as if they were effortlessly created.


(Don't know what I'm talking about when I say "pain, toil, and struggle"? Check out this post on my not-so-enlightened Tuesday last week during rehearsal for The Pie Car)


Take this video for instance:




This is a beautiful video made by a great group of artists for Kinfolk, a great project about bringing people together over simple food. Everything in this video appears beautiful and effortless, which is obviously a complete fallacy. It wasn't effortless, it was a lot of hard work. To make my point, let's make a short list of phenomenon you don't see in this video:


  • Have you ever tried to paddle a canoe by yourself? The first time I tried, I flopped around like an idiot for an hour. Even once you get the hang of it, it's pretty darn hard work. Kudos to this girl for gliding like a swan.
  • Did you notice that perfectly-baked-probably-homemade bagette being torn apart and shared toward the end of the video? Well, my first few attempts at bread making have been a complete disaster. There's going to be a lot more hard, inedible, lumps of bread-like substance crawling out of my oven before I can make anything that looks that yummy. To whomever baked that baguette, I say "well done, sir".
  • And what about those mason jar lights floating so gorgeously above the table? Yeah, I tried that once. It is hard to get those jars up there, and hard to keep the candles lit (if they're not level the wax puts out the flame). It's harder still to get 20 of them up there. In the words of Eddie Izzard, "Well done, indeed.".
  • And finally, I counted 6 people at their lovely dinner party. Getting six people together for dinner, all at once, at the same time, under the same random tree in the middle of nowhere - that is no easy task.


Here's the lie:


Our creative projects, the ones that we worked the hardest on, often end up looking effortless.


Especially when we post them online, in their finished state, to be seen by people who don't even know us. To everyone else, it looks like we just rolled out of bed looking like this, running like this, making art like this. We hide - sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose - all the icky grimy annoying frustrating hard stuff that we went through.


This is dangerous because it propagates the idea that art is easy, for the artistic people. That creation is easy, for the creative people. It propagates the lie that says "If it's hard for me, that's because I'm not gifted".


This is a very dangerous lie.


There are no special people. It's hard for everyone. The ones who create value in the world are not the ones for whom creating value is effortless. The ones who create value are the ones willing to toil, fail, do it over, mess it up, do it over again.


It's not effortless, it's hard work. It's hard work, though, that anyone can do. There are no special people.


Anyone can create value. Anyone, that is, who is willing to resist the urge to just sit in their pajamas on a Sunday morning, reading blogs and drinking coffee.