Why it is Important for us to Build Things

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Lately, I have been somewhat obsessed with making things. I know, obsessed is a word that has been overused, as an exaggeration to describe thought processes that don’t  really approach a clinical level of thoughts that interfere with daily life, but it sort of fits here. I do find myself thinking about it a lot, even at times when it isn’t necessarily appropriate.

In my mind, making things myself seems to be related to so many things I think are important, like self-reliance, anti-consumerism and community building. When I create things myself, I feel connected to them in a way that I do not feel toward things that I buy ready-made. I feel more pride and self-confidence.

These are things I like to model for my children. We live in such a materialistic, consumer culture, it is hard to avoid the idea that buying things isn’t an end goal in and of itself. I don’t like the idea that the point of life is to work hard and shop harder, and I don’t want my kids to view life that way.  

So many people spend so much of their energy, not to mention their time, working at a paying job that they don’t have anything left over to do things that interest them when they get home. They just come home, eat something, and watch tv all evening to relax. I used to do that, until I realized that the cycle of working for someone else and inactivity at home was just making me depressed. I needed to do something that I find important, and watching tv was not doing it for me.

The sense of accomplishment I get from doing my own creative endeavors is the perfect antidote to this kind of depression. I feel capable again, and in charge of my life. I feel like I am deciding the course of my life rather than passively going along for the ride. I love looking at things that came into being through the force of my will, whether it is a blog post, or a meal for my family, or a piece of art on my wall, or a messy bit of practice crochet stitches.

I also love the social aspects of becoming a person who crafts and builds. As with just about anything you can think of, it isn’t hard to find a group online that shares a love of DIY culture, but there are also so many opportunities to do real-life community building around a love of crafts or wood-working or any other DIY hobby. You can join a local club, or drag your friends into your house (or a local coffee house) to do it with you. Or, even better, do it with your children if you have them! Building things together is a great opportunity to talk in a very low pressure way, which makes for great conversations with kids who might otherwise feel self-conscious.

It is easy to see why I am a bit obsessed with making things. It ties together everything I have been thinking about with living an intentional life. As I try to gain control of my life overall, I find I want to apply that control over some of the specific things I interact with on a day to day basis. I want to extend my control as far as I can. I am not crazy about it–I know I have limits of time and ability–but I want to do what I can. It certainly helps me to enjoy my time off work more.

I define making things pretty broadly, as you can see. For instance, I totally include making dinner in this sort of equation, even though it is a daily occurrence. I could go to a restaurant, but I prefer to make my own food, because then I know what is in it. What kind of things do you like to make?

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2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Menu, Week of 5/21 « Susan's Musings

  2. Pingback: Making Some Changes | Making a Life

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