“I discovered bit by bit not the pleasure of eating good meals (I am seldom drawn to solitary delights), but that of manipulating raw material, of organizing, combining, modifying, and inventing. I learned the tranquil joy of anticipated hospitality, when one prepares a meal to share with friends in the same way in which one composes a party tune or draws: with moving hands, careful fingers, the whole body inhabited with the rhythm of working” (The Practice of Everyday Life, vol. 2, p. 153)
In my real life, I’m a PhD student studying anthropology. I spend most of my time reading about food justice, health disparities, and black social and political thought. When I’m not reading about these things, I’m reflecting on them, trying to figure out reasons why so many disparities exists; why so many people don’t have what they need.
During one of those reflections, my good friend and colleague Naya made a great observation: we’re getting further and further away from the production of food, which has done a great disservice to most people in this country, but particularly those who suffer most from health disparities. After the conversation, I thought about how we’ve moved away from the production of many other things as well, because we often want things quickly….and sometimes creating things with our hands isn’t a quick process.
Last year I realized that some days would come and go and I wouldn’t remember hardly anything that happened. I decided I didn’t want to live like that. I thought about things I wanted to experience and I envisioned how I wanted to feel on a daily basis. That helped me see that I needed to stop moving so fast and spend more time creating. When I deliberately slowed down my life, I began to pay more attention to what’s happening around me. My creativity expanded. Now, I get a great deal of joy from making things with my hands for myself and others. Even if it doesn’t turn out the way I planned, I try not to be too disappointed, because most times, the process was enjoyable despite the outcome. When it does come out right, I feel like I love it ten times more than anything I could have purchased “as is” in the store.
I spend a lot of time creating, because there is something beautiful about knowing the process that something went through to become what it is. Whether it be an outfit, a DIY project, a meal you’ve prepared or a story you’ve written, the process of creating it makes you an active participant in your present day. And hopefully, taking the time to make things with your own hands will deepen your appreciation for others who do so as well.
Make something this weekend. Doesn’t matter if you make it for yourself or someone else. Just do it with your whole self present.