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Making Things Makes You Better

By Bob Priest-Heck

One of my favorite things about the annual Maker Faire is not just the scale and scope of the inventions — which are awesome — but how it never fails to inspire me to make something myself. It’s my belief that we all have an inborn urge to create, but it’s become so much easier to just consume that we’ve shut off that part of our soul. It’s as if the process of curating ideas, or aggregating art, or sampling and sharing scientific innovation is as powerful as making something from scratch. But they are different things entirely — and it has everything to do with what you get out of the process.

If I want a fine work of art to display in my home, I’ll visit some art galleries and purchase a piece by a true artist. But if I want the satisfaction of playing with color and form and fabric, if I want to experience and learn from the creative process, I need to jump in without worrying about whether the results will be “good.” If you want to provide secure shelter for your family, you’ll buy a house from a trusted builder. If I want the adventure of creating something with your kids that they’ll play in for hours on end, you’ll build a treehouse.

The thrill of making something isn’t reserved for artists or engineers or architects. You can bake a cake. Plant a vegetable garden and share your goods with the local food bank. Make up a story for a grandchild. Write a haiku. Join a garage band and make music. Organize a reading club and build a basis for fellowship. Build a team where none existed before.

If we are very lucky, we’ll make something that can be shared and that matters to other human beings. But I suspect that most things get made because their creators gave in to the urge to just do it. The reward is the journey of creation, how it makes us feel when we explore this part of our brain and express a secret corner of our soul.

Making things makes us better people.

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