We are makers.
I am a maker. It’s important first and foremost to understand where this comes from: not from ambition, but from compulsion. Making is the only way I’ve found to understand and cope with the world around me. Without the ability to work out the process of my existence through the act of creation, I feel out of place and helpless to effect good in my life. If this idea resonates with you, chances are you’re a maker, too.
We live in a time and culture where makers enjoy a great amount of status and opportunity. This is not unique to us, but nor is it a given. The freedom we currently enjoy must be nurtured, protected. It is not a right, and it can be lost.
We are not self-made.
My story is a common one. Key people in my life ignited a passion for making. Others inspired me to dig in and grow deeper in my love of making. Role models showed me it was possible to pursue a career as a maker. Mentors took a chance and invested their time in me when my level of skill did not warrant it. Communities welcomed me to join them and together we make things that individually we could not hope to accomplish.
Counted and countless have poured themselves into us. Without their help, given to us when we could give nothing back to them in return, we would not be who we are. This is both utterly obvious and fully profound. It’s an important reality to remain mindful of.
We are indebted.
To each and every individual who helped me become my present person, I owe a debt. Helpless to repay them directly, the best proxy I can imagine is to become one of those individuals for someone else. Every person I interact with provides more potential to repay my debt.
We are all hopelessly indebted. Not one of us can dig ourselves out. All we can do is our best to help others when the need it and pray that at some point, in some small way, we can inspire the same sort of magic and delight which set us on our current course as makers.
Our job is not sexy.
With success comes influence and power. Unfortunately, delusion is often also a part of the package. The maker class has begun to buy into the lie that our jobs are sexy. This lie is poison, and if we allow it to work its way through our body, it will be the death of us. Sexiness is vanity, narcissism. It exalts the individual and is the antithesis of the type of humility required to pay back the debt we owe.
Those closest to us know: our makers’ drive is not easy to live with. The compulsion is a burden, but one such a part of us that to remove it would destroy its host. We dig in the dirt so that out of the muck we can construct something we ourselves can find worthwhile, all the time knowing in our true hearts that we’re likely to be the only ones to ever find it beautiful. We continue down this fool’s road because we can’t not continue. Nothing about this is sexy. If you begin to find it so, you’re far too removed from the smell of your own shit.
Our parents understood this.
The people who came before us did not have many of the maker class luxuries we currently enjoy. Some were able to make a living doing what they love, but most pursued their passion at a greater cost and sacrifice than we understand. Without the derailing allure of over-prosperity, it was obvious to this group that a rising tide lifts all ships, and they worked together to build the foundation of our current reality.
Our parents understood the hard work and co-dedication required for the survival of the maker. We are the product of their heart and soul effort to create a world where makers can fit, where they have a place. It’s hard to look around and deny their success.
We are losing our way.
It is equally as difficult to exist in this new reality and not feel a sense of entitlement to our place in it. Absent the symptoms to signify a problem, the prescription which holds that very problem at bay can be explained away as unnecessary and anachronistic. In actuality, nothing has changed. We are all still desperately in need of the makers’ medicine for our continued survival.
We are beginning to lose our way. Convinced that our place in society is permanent, we’re starting to build walls around ourselves. We fortify our position and reap the benefits of this current season of plenty. We must not continue down this path. We must not abandon the work of cooperation, of inspiring each other, of collaborating, of help to those fully incapable of repayment. We do so at our own peril and at the risk of losing everything makers before us worked so hard to achieve.