Why bother to create when the world is burning?

Why bother to create when the world is burning?

I heard from three creators recently who are struggling with why bother?

  • A reporter who wants to write personal essays but wonders why anybody would care when the world is dying.
  • A non-fiction writer who has reported on the climate crisis and now wants to write fiction but also wonders if it’s a stupid waste of time.
  • A painter working to recover her mojo after a long marriage where her mate told her what she was doing wasn’t important enough to bother.

Why keep going? 

This is a question every creative has to respond to, and always has. 

In the face of such suffering, does creating matter? 

Only you can decide if it does.  

Only you can decide who you will be if you turn your back on creating. 

Only you can know what role creating plays in your life and mental health. 

There is no wrong answer.

I wonder if we give up on writing & creating when the world is crashing around us less because we think it doesn’t matter and more because it does? And we are afraid to care deeply about anything because it forces us to face that this is it? This is our life now, on this contentious burning planet.

And while what we do to help matters greatly, we can’t do it all. In fact, we can do very little, even if we were Queen of the World, which, alas, we are not. To create is to embrace our finitude which strangely, can motivate us better than thinking we should be able to do it all and then despairing when we can’t.

Or maybe we are afraid to create during times like these because it feels wrong to be fulfilled? To be happy? Yet nobody in Afghanistan or Tennessee or Algeria cares if you’re unhappy. It does nothing to relieve their suffering.

Personally, creating reminds me life is worth fighting for. Creating is good medicine against my despair and depression. Creating helps me wrap my arms around the finitude of my tiny life.

To create is to say yes to life and to yourself. That always seems like a good idea to me.


Want to get your bother on starting now?

Read the first chapter from my new book for a jolt of fresh perspective and possibility, and a radical reframe on what to do when you are feeling lost, blah, unmotivated, or burned out, in any area of your life or for any reason — even success!

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cynthia lee - September 17, 2021

Thank you for this. It’s a perspective shift. I like to think what I do matters … When the truth is that I am just one person so what I do probably doesn’t matter … While at the same time it’s the most important thing I can be doing. It’s life saving. What a wonderful paradox. I will take it.

What I do: painting. Journaling. Blogging. Giving out gold stars.

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