Random musings of a composer in London
Something struck me recently, whilst I was struggling to scour a pot which had been left unwashed on our kitchen counter for about two decades: Every action that we perform during our lifetime can be broken down into two basic conceptual categories: Creative, or Destructive.
Creative processes involve bringing something into the world that wasn’t there before or improving, changing or restoring something and thereby increasing it’s value to ourselves and to others. It is the embodiment of an idea, the realization of a goal or the assistance of a fellow being. It can be as literal as painting a picture or as abstract as smiling at a stranger. Creative processes will always have some kind of aim, and more often than not have a defined conclusion.
Destructive processes by comparison are generally aimless, lazy and wasteful. They are the actions that remove something from us, degrade our personal environment or which expend energy or resources without giving us a useful return – a night slumped in front of the television or a rude gesture at a traffic light. They are selfish actions, indulgent often, and yet they are generally the ones we forget with the passage of time.
Our spiritual well-being thrives on Creative processes. They are the very fundamental building blocks of happiness, for upon completion of these actions we feel successful, fulfilled, victorious, ecstatic even. They are the moments we often remember for many years to come, doused in the heady scent of nostalgia. They make us feel more intelligent, more cultured and more purposeful, and they give us, and others around us, the inspiration to keep creating. Even the most mundane or indeed unpleasant Creative processes give us satisfaction upon completion, and in fact generally more of it than we imagine before embarking on the task.
But human beings are creatures of irony. In reality we are incredibly good at enduring discomfort. We are smart, initiating and with the right tools at our disposal we can adapt ourselves to an incredibly wide range of less-than-advantageous situations. But our fatal flaw is that we believe that we dislike these situations far more than we actually do. And so, when given a choice between a Creative or a Destructive process, we will often choose the Destructive one, because we believe that it will cause us less pain. Take out the rubbish or watch TV? Go out with friends on a cold winter evening or stay at home? Give up our seat on the tube for the pregnant lady, or pretend to read the paper? In all of these situations, the Destructive process beckons, and yet the Creative option gives us a modicum of inner peace, however small, that we can draw on later for the warmth of happiness.
So go forth now, and do your washing up.