A couple of weeks ago, Linda and I met for our “monthly” creative meeting, which happens kind of on a monthly basis, but more on a “Oh, crap! It’s been three months!” basis. Except for that one time when we were going to meet on the first Thursday of October and she texted me on the last Thursday of September and neither of us realized it was the wrong Thursday and we met anyway and then laughed about our complete lunacy until the strange man at Panera came over and told us a CIA joke.
Anyhow - we were lamenting our lack of creative energy lately - the lack of writing and photographing and drawing. The sad, dusty state of our sketchbooks. The shriveled, dried up husks of webspace where our blogs used to thrive, back when we watered them. I started to realize that those spaces were reflecting my own internal space, just as they always have. In 2009, I wrote 263 blog posts. In 2012, I wrote 4. What happened in the space between those two statistics?
Well, it can’t be a coincidence that in December of 2009, Pinterest launched. I signed up way back in the invitation period, and occasionally pinned a thing or two and looked at another couple. No biggie. Cute room ideas, Christmas decorations, recipes. All the cool bloggers were pinning. I could handle it, I told myself - no problem. I’ll just spend 15 minutes a day there. I can handle 15 minutes a day! I told my friends about it. I invited my mother.
“Just try it. It can’t hurt. You’ll get inspired! It’ll be great!” I told her. My mother. Dear, dear woman. I’m so sorry, Dad. I know how many projects you’ve had since then. I blame myself.
Fifteen minutes a day wasn’t enough, though. Soon, I was dropping the boys off at tennis and coming home to write or paint or draw and I would log on to Pinterest, just to get a little visual stimulation. I’d pin a nice idea about a staircase, click on a link for a recipe and find myself falling down a rabbit hole of time-sucking, brain-stealing activity. Next thing I knew, it was time to go pick the boys up. I had to pull myself together, shut down the computer and dazedly drive the whole 20 minutes there with visions of stencils and chalkboard paint floating across my mind.
Then, they launched the mobile apps, and I didn’t even have to leave it. I could suspend it just for the 20 minutes drive and once there, resume my frantic searching for...for...damn. I don’t even know what. My creative core was so hungry, but there was no satisfying it. I would turn on the computer, open my Pinterest page and it would go something like this:
Look! Crafts! I love crafts!
I’m going to make all the Thanksgiving place settings for my mom’s dinner!
- Out of burlap!!
- And spray-painted gourds!!!
- And add a thankfulness tree!!!!
- And tiny origami pilgrims as place cards!!!!!
Then, I’ll handcraft everyone a Christmas present!
- Out of organically grown, fully sustainable bamboo!!
- That I’ve grown on the back third of my yard!!!
- With my own compost and fertilizer from my chickens!!!!
- And harvested using traditional Vietnamese implements procured via a responsible dealer, certified to have strictly safe labor practices!!!!!
- Tailored to the recipients exacting taste and preference!!!!!!
- Wrapped using handmade recycled newspaper with soy-based ink wrapping paper!!!!!!!!
- And then…
- My head exploded.
So now? I’m trying to decide if I need to go cold turkey, or if I can wean myself off gradually. I need to remember to look elsewhere for inspiration - the computer is too cold and impersonal for me to draw from. I need to create, not just view others’ creations. Don’t get me wrong - I love Pinterest. I think it’s one of the most visually pleasing places on the internet.
But real life is better. The colors are more true. The places are attainable. The people are slightly flawed and imperfect in the most perfect of ways.
Go outside. Talk. Shake hands with strangers. Smile at the girl behind the counter at your favorite bank. Tell her you like her glasses. Make silly faces at a baby while his mother’s back is turned.
Wake the genius.