This is a thought experiment for those of us who consider ourselves "creatives" and whose vocations are tied up with some sort of creative activity. Imagine that you were going to die as soon as you finished reading this post. Imagine further that after you died your entire life and legacy was judged solely on the basis of your current concrete creative output.
What I mean by that is - subtract all of the feelings others have about you (in other words, people who'd consider you a great person apart from anything you've created), subtract your creative ambitions that have yet to come to fruition, subtract the great but unrealized ideas, subtract the abstract sketches in that notebook that you haven't done anything with, subtract the plot ideas you haven't written yet, all of that. Imagine that your identity will forever live on as the combination of creative projects you've actually produced, finished, created, published, finalized.
I realize this is a reductive way to think about a personal legacy, and I also believe that some of the most important parts of a life well lived are intangible. But in our age of ubiquitous social media I think sometimes the lines between who we actually are becoming and who we wish we were can become blurred, because all of our thoughts and impulses tend to be documented the same way (as tweets or instagrams or status updates).
Anyways, imagine that you're defined at this point solely on the basis of the totality of your current concrete creative output. Are you happy with that legacy? Does it represent you well? Imagine that your legacy was in a museum, and a curator was introducing you to a group of future humans. If you could come back to life, would you feel the need to explain certain things; to offset the impression given by some things; to help them understand what you meant to do or were planning to do and try to defend why it never happened?
In other words, if you were defined solely on the basis of your current concrete creative output, would you recognize yourself? Would you see your best self?
And if not, what are you doing right now, today, this week, this month, this year, to change that?
Something else you might like-
Part one of a three-part series on creativity and faith I wrote for a friend's blog