Sunday, March 23, 2014

The desire to create

Sitting at the breakfast table, I experienced a familiar urge — the desire to create. I simply wanted to make something today, only I didn’t know what that might be.

This probably is not surprising to those who know me as a semi-professional writer, or who’ve seen me turn a village park into a personal photo studio. Yet the yen to make has not always yielded successful creations.

I am a monumentally awful fiction writer. Even before I worry about hashing out a compelling plot I get hung up on naming characters. I should try fairy tales or fables and use unidentified animals as heroes and villains. Perhaps my shortcoming is one of the reasons I rarely read fiction outside the occasional bedtime story.

Good poetry, on the other hand, is a joy to consume. Though in college I took writing workshops in both fiction and poetry (with some overlap among fellow students) I remember being far more interested in and impressed with the poetry. At times I sensed a smidgen of my own talent, though my peers’ work routinely left me in silent wonderment.

Far greater than poetry is my love of music. On a few forgettable occasions I’ve thought myself capable of creating my own songs, always with disastrous results. Even arranging someone else’s original idea is far too daunting. So I’ve settled to create simply by playing or singing along. This is almost always enjoyable, but happens far too infrequently relative to how much of my life music used to occupy.

One of my most recent favorite snapshots.
Many of these frustrations are why I’ve been so interested in developing photography skills over the last several years. We got our fist digital camera when my wife was pregnant with our second son, and when she was expecting our third a few years later she surprised me by getting all of our family members together to get us a DSLR for Christmas. I’ve loved being able to create what some might call art, especially with my children as the subject.

My only other 2D artistic talent has been collages or tracing — I could never make anything from scratch. But with a camera, my job is not to create the image, only to properly focus, frame and capture. I can still be wracked by indecision and doubt when it comes time to choose what to print, which frame to choose and where it should hang, but on balance the only works I’ve enjoyed as much as some of my more treasured writing are my favorite photographs.

My greatest creations, of course, are my children. Yet for all their wonderful qualities that amaze and amuse daily, I am ever mindful of the true Creator. Even those without belief or faith must agree parents aren’t exactly custom-ordering offspring. Though I can influence their personalities as they mature, I did not draw the blueprint. It is a privilege and an honor to be their father, but their very existence is a constant reminder of the blessing and miracle of life.

A prayer for March 23:

Lord, thank you for my wife and my children. Thank you for the circumstances that brought us together to form a family, and may we all live in gratitude for the countless ways you show your love. Amen.

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