The other day, I was thinking about the boy’s many hobbies. Like many young people, he enjoys the glories of the internet, video games, and other forms of media. Unlike many young people, he is widely read. However, he also writes sketch comedy, builds musical instruments, and works on robots.
Then I started thinking about my own hobbies and the hobbies of my friends, noting that although we all read, we have a wide-range of things we create. We are writers, chefs, bakers, knitters, visual artists, musicians, etc. Part of the ties of friendship is the admiration we have for each other’s talents.
Many of my students have great hobbies as well. When they write about the things they create, the things they’re passionate about, their writing comes alive. I find myself caring about subjects I’ve never had an interest in and activities I’ve never actually wanted to do.
Sadly, many of my students don’t seem to make anything. Some students actually say they have no interests when I poll them. This never bodes well for their writing or their conversation. A sizable number report being interested in listening to music or watching sports, but their engagement is completely passive.
It occurs to me that my informal observations of my students has illustrated the need for a person to be a creator to be interesting. The availability of an immense amount of media we can passively take in can hinder our own creative impulses. How much easier, after a long day, to turn on the tv or to fire up youtube than to summon the energy for creation.
However, those of us with creative passions know that we need to create. We might not indulge every day, but if we go too long without our creative outlet–without writing, without trying out a new recipe, etc–we don’t feel right. Creation is hard & usually messy, but we can’t find peace, can’t find ourselves, without it.
I’m not saying that passive enjoyments are worthless. I happen to watch an unhealthy amount of tv, after all. But how much more rewarding it has become when I end up giving a paper on Buffy (as I will next month) after all those hours? Or when I wrote that book on The Simpsons and I got to meet so many wonderful people who work there?
I’m so thankful that the boy has so many things he enjoys. I wish I could get more of my students to have creativity in their lives. I have the feeling they’d be better students & better fellow citizens of this wonderous world. I didn’t consciously set out to instill the creative spirit in the boy, so I’m not sure exactly how to plant that seed in passive, boring adults. Is it too late for them?