i hate to break my tradition of only having one post with one word. but it's probably necessary. so without further ado, here is something that i've been comtemplating for quite some time:

the last several years of my life have been plagued by knowing that god has given me some ability to create. not just an austere ability, but a fire in my bones for it. this is problematic for me because the more excited about creating something i become, the more tangled i become in both mindless day-to-day distractions and mind-strangling perfectionism. any potential product of creativity is extinguished before it's even started. i think it's similar to the paradox that can be found in romans 7:14-16, except that instead of dealing with sin, i'm struggling with being uncreative.

or is it the same? one of the wisest people i've ever encountered told me that pride is simply disagreeing with god about your identity. i suppose this kind of pride could take root and bloom as a passive sin of omission.

the other day i was reading an interview with [my current favorite songwriter] sufjan stevens, and he mentioned something i will not forget. he explained his embarrassment with the way his fans often associate his music with himself personally. i was astonished by this because i [and maybe most people?] tend to identify many artists and musicians by their work; therefore the distinction is not made. furthermore, i also tend to think that most of the best artists would not want that distinction to be made. yet what truly sparked something in me from that interview, though, is that he described his creative process as though he were tapping into something completely outside himself, something that already exists "out there".

actually this makes perfect sense, looking back at just about anything i've ever created (or should i say discovered) that seemed to have value. in those [unfortunately rare] creative sessions, the only true labor on my part was making myself simply sit down at the piano, or simply getting away and putting my pen down on the paper or my fingers to a keyboard. from that point forward, if i just prevented myself from trying very hard or caring too much about the outcome, my best work would flow. i suppose that tapping into the stream of ideas from "out there" really just involves us letting that stream filter through our emotions and thoughts onto the paper. (to be honest, i didn't have much of an idea what i was going to write about in this post, but here i am rambling along, not that it's particularly interesting...)

this presents a stark contrast to the way i have always viewed artistic composition. for whatever reason, i always felt that poignant emotion or a brilliant and original thought was the only way to birth any creative work. i'm coming to think that the emotion and thought is more a filter through which we let the ideas flow.

a perfect example (not to offend the newer fans of death cab): i was talking about the band with my friend spencer, who told me that the last couple of albums had marked the beginning of ben gibbard actually "trying" to write music. this helped me, an avid fan myself, understand the significant difference between the last two albums and the first three (which i perceive as vastly superior): the first three don't feel forced, and are some of the best albums of indie rock that will probably ever exist. the most recent ones are more formulaic and mainstream, and though they are indeed good records, you will not find such raw poignancy and originality in them.

anyway, this idea gives me hope for growing closer to who i really am (and to quit disagreeing with god about my nature)...

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