I’ve been reading a book called Body of Work by Pamela Slim this year. While I’ve read it only intermittently, a few pages here and a few pages the week before, and so on, it has been helping me gain a new perspective as I reflect on my life’s work. On page 99, she writes of an interview that Piers Morgan of CNN did with artist LL Cool J in 2012. Piers asked him what we needed to do as a country to “keep America great.” LL Cool J responded, “I think in order to keep America great, we have to keep America creative.”
Ms. Slim writes further, “We are made to create. We feel useful when we create.” And one of my favorite statements from the book, so far, “The act of creating is what sets us free, what gives our life meaning. And it is what will put us back on our personal and collective path to greatness.”
I am inclined to agree with this, wholeheartedly. Whether restoring a ’69 Mustang to its former glory, growing a beautiful garden, writing a haiku, delivering a flawless floor routine during gymnastics practice or bringing to life a set of beloved cartoon characters, we are fully engaged and alive when we are creating. We are able to see something that only we can see at that point in time, something beyond the world as it exists. When we execute on this vision, we can share with others something unique. The results of our efforts culminate in not only a body of our own work, something we can be proud of, but they also contribute to the life experience of others.
To this day, I remember a play that I saw sometime around 2003. I was going through a particularly tough issue at that time. The storyline of the play resonated with me and the actors delivered an exquisite performance. It made an impact and I hope to remember this, always. Sometimes I wonder if that playwright and those actors even realize how much a piece of their own body of work influenced the experience of another. No matter, it was a creative act and it brought something good and lasting into the world.