One Creative Act, Every Day
Ever since I was a really little kid, I've needed an outlet for creative energy. I use "need" deliberately, because if I don't have a way to expunge this energy that accumulates within me, I can get a little sideways--or a lot. I haven't the slightest idea why I am this way, but it has been a constant my entire life.
Ironically, the reason that I became a computer scientist and engineer was because of the creative aspect of the work. Before I was hooked on programming computers, solving algorithmic problems, and making software for myself and others, I wanted to be a comic book artist, and drew day and night for 6 or 7 years, dreaming of going to the Rhode Island School of Design and getting a gig drawing for Marvel in NYC.
Drawing makes me happy.
In college, while I was studying computer science, I had a wandering eye, and fell in love with words and prose and novels. I almost double-majored in English literature, and when I was at the end of my Bachelor's degree studies and faced with what's next, I very nearly chose to pursue a PhD in literature versus studying for my PhD in computer science. I wrote papers, and short stories, and outlined novels that I wanted to write. To this day, I take great time and care when handling words, and appreciate the power that they have, both on others, and on me.
Writing makes me happy.
In college, partially by necessity for someone with a curious palate living in a town with limited culinary options, I started to learn the true extent of my love of food, preparing meals, and sharing them with friends. My best friend was from India and she introduced me to a cuisine I had never known before, and then taught me how to cook it when I became addicted to spices and searing heat and exotic aromas. Over the ensuing decades I have become truly obsessed with the craft of cooking and sharing eating experiences with comrades and loved ones. Today, when I cook, I improvise. I try to find the best in fruits and vegetables from our garden, and to build dishes that both nourish and help recall precious memories from other places.
Cooking makes me happy.
When I was six or seven years old, way back in the 1970's, my Mom bought me a Bugs Bunny Instant Load Camera for a special occasion I can't quite remember. I do remember the first few rolls of film being mostly exposures of the back of my little brother's head as he ran screaming and giggling trying to avoid having his portrait made. That little camera changed my life. It allowed me to grab something out of the flow of time, things that otherwise were so brief in duration that they might never have been noticed, or so insignificant that they might never be remembered, and turn them into things with a reality and permanence that wouldn't have existed without me. I was totally hooked, and have been taking pictures ever since. But never has the concept of a photograph had more significance for me than over the past 8 years as I've watched my children be born and evolve a little bit every day into what they are meant to be. The moments in their timeline I've fixed into permanence are amongst the most precious things that my wife and I have.
Photography makes me happy.
As I've gotten older, I try to be more deliberate about creativity and making time for it. When I can spend just a few minutes in a day making something new, whether or not anyone else ever experiences it, whether it's code or words or a sketch or a plate of food or a photographic image, my soul is calmer, and my life is richer. I wish for everyone to have creativity in their lives. We all have a maker in us, and that maker is so much more powerful than the parts of us that criticize and destroy. Spend a few minutes every day, and create.