Dear Ivy: Create

My Dear Ivy,

Yesterday I wrote about not “letting the perfect become the enemy of the good” – about letting go of the need be perfect and letting yourself be “good enough.”

Today I want to narrow that thought down to a very specific area.

Your brother and sister are creators. They love to design and build and conceive of new and wondrous things, from incredible drawings, to gargantuan building projects, to beautiful musical compositions. By all indications, you’re no different. Your favorite medium – unique among our children – is pencil-based wall art.

It’s hard to remind myself – as I’m sitting here searching for the best ways to get graphite off latex-based paints – that this is your way of learning to create your own things. And while you will eventually learn that there is a “time and place” for certain creations, I’m so very glad that you’re first learning to create at all.

And yes, the advice from my last letter applies fully to this context as well: Let yourself create, and then, when you are happy with the result, let yourself be done. Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Let your work come to an end.

The motivation for that end is important, though. Don’t let someone else decide when your creation is “done.” When you’re creating for your own sake – simply for the joy of it – don’t do it to another person’s specifications. Your creations are yours, and they are complete when you decide that they are what you want them to be.

And remember that not every creation is a masterpiece. Sometimes “what you want them to be” is a stepping stone to something else – a prototype of some future creation. Some of your creations will not work, or look, as intended. But even Brahms had his failures – he burned many of his half-finished compositions before he died because he wanted everything he left behind to be perfect. So did Leonardo da Vinci – some of his greatest masterpieces are painted over other, never-finished creations.

Like I said in my last letter, sometimes our failures are our greatest teachers. Remember what I wrote in my earlier letters, about people? Remember how I wrote that every person you will ever meet has something to teach you?

The same thing is true of every creation you will encounter – yours or someone else’s. They all have something to teach you, about their function, their creative process, even their creator.

Yes, even the ones you hate. Even the ones that don’t work. Even the ones that you or others consider a failure.

Create anyway. Not because every result is “perfect” (whatever that means), but because you love to do it! If you’re anything like your brother and sister, or your mother and father for that matter, there will be times you are driven to create because you simply can’t bring yourself to do anything else.

I hope you never stop, and I can’t wait to see, hear, and enjoy the results.


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