This being human thing is hard. It’s hard, I think, not because we can’t figure it out, but because we can. Yes, it is complex and murky, but every day, every moment, in a multitude of ways, shapes and forms we are being human, whether we know it or not.
At our best, we humans build, we make, we do. We create.
Whether telling the story of what happened on your bus commute today or revising your epic novel about another planet during a summer in the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, you are creating. Whether you are heating a can of beans on the stove because you think your kids will like them with the hot dogs you’ve microwaved, or concocting a meal fit for the Michelin three-star restaurant you own, guess what? You are creating.
I’m not saying that all creations are equal in quality. They’re not. But all acts of shared, positive creation have at least one common thread: courage. The courage to put your creation, yourself, out there. And opening yourself up—being vulnerable—allows others to see they are not so alone. That your experience of being human and theirs isn’t so far off.
But if being a “creator” is us at our best, being a “destroyer” is humanity—human nature—at its worst. Like yin and yang, light and dark, chaos and order, the two are bound together and cannot exist without the other. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t always strive for the light, encourage order and beauty and creation. We need to resist destruction, not tear others down, or feel that by encouraging creation in others, it somehow makes us look smaller. It doesn’t. It lifts us all up out of the dark, mean destructive part of ourselves.
So be gentle with others and their creations, whether they be complex, sublime and revelatory; or obvious, awkward and ugly. Creation is never a waste of time or energy. There is always beauty in it somewhere. So find and communicate the beauty in that misshapen “bowl” your friend made in her community-ed pottery class, the line of eloquence or subtle humor in your co-worker’s otherwise boring e-mail about a pot luck party next week.
When you do, feel how it fills your chest, your heart with warmth. With light.
Because whatever they have made is a wonder and a testament to the better side of humanity. And its very existence is part of the answer to our own.