As has come before; many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…Please bare with us as we traverse the abstract canals of audio musings.
A few heavy reads recently had left me feeling kinda faithless about the big picture of it all. We’ve always been living in pretty dark times, if you want to see it that way, but humanity’s only getting faster and more capable of doing worse, faster.
Like Sway, I don’t have the answers. So I’ve been talking to a lot of people about it, and here’s about where I’ve got to, plus a lot of advice stolen directly from friends and colleagues. If this feels unrecognizably heavy, I’m happy for you.
In the face of despair and the accompanying loss of creative drive, the most important thing to preserve is the belief that creating is worthwhile. That’s step one.
If you cannot believe in what you’re creating, try simply to believe in the act, or the things the creativity of others has given you.
If you can get to that, it’s a matter of time and recovery until the creative impulse is healed or strong enough to persist despite all the crazy world- and meaning-doubting around it.
Focusing on the end result of your work and the people it will reach can take you out of your head and away from the ‘why’ you’re tripping over in the first place. Imagine reaching someone the way you’ve been reached by the sounds, music, words, visuals and crafted experiences that brought you here. More viscerally, go listen to a thing you love. Someone made that, maybe even in spite of the same gravity you feel you’re carrying around. It reaching you on the other side is real, and matters.
Think of the gift of giving that back and completing the circle for someone else. You can’t know whether you’ll reach even a single person the way that you mean to, but if you remember how it felt to be reached, you might find it’s worth trying.
Some other small ideas:
Acknowledge and forgive. Sometimes I just don’t have it in me to make happy or even interesting sounds for a period of time. This could be from weird existential despair, as in the scenario headering this article, or it could just be from exhaustion, being spread too thin, anything that gets in the way. These periods don’t care about whether you’re on a deadline or if you’ve time to stretch out and recharge. So, to steal a message from the serenity prayer, you need to sort out the things you can change and the things you can’t.
Feeling bad is uncomfortable enough, but it’s going to happen from time to time. Feeling worse because you’re on your own case about creative output is something you have control over. It will pass. Trust in that and just keep existing.
Stop thinking big for a while. I’m not advocating for closed-mindedness, here, but just suggesting that entertaining the entire universe of possible dread is not the only way to go through your days as a tiny, single human being. We didn’t always do that, because we couldn’t, and if we could it wasn’t this freaking easy. I’ve got a device the size of half a deck of cards that, amongst its myraid features, is capable of truth-flaring the ever-loving shit of me with a few flicks of my fingers. Maybe it’s best not to do that all the time.
All of the above reads to me now like this unasked for spin on mindfulness, staying present, all the psychological salves of our time bent into shape for a Designing Sound article. It’s a starting point. I think there’s a whole article out there on nurturing the warm happy spaces of your imagination against the wear and tear of life experience, too, and I wonder how those ‘spaces’ find definition inside the bounds of neuroscience and psychology. You are all encouraged to start discussing it before that article can happen!
I’d love to hear your tips for staying creative–or even staying moving–in the face of this stuff.