It’s Not Really about the Toy

It’s Not Really about the Toy May 20, 2011

I have it in my mind that I must have a particular piece of expensive technology — never mind the specific device. What’s important is that I’ve identified it as The One True Device that will jump-start my creativity, and spur me to be more productive in my various passions. Without it, my creative life is on hold.

Which is, of course, ridiculous. And I’m only now beginning to see how my brain is trying to justify getting the dopamine squirt of a retail high. No doubt, the Device that I yearn for would, no doubt, facilitate the work I want to be doing more so than my existing toys, but its absence is by no means preventing me from doing these things. Far from it. But in a funny way, I think that my subconscious’s attempts to vindicate a potential weighty purchase has caused me to eschew certain kinds of creative work in order to make the case to my conscious mind that this Device is, in fact, necessary.

But look. If I’m moved to create, it shouldn’t matter what tools I have at my disposal. When I was a teenager just learning to play guitar and write songs, I used whatever cheap, junky, jury rigged recording apparatus I could get my hands on. When I was able to upgrade my technology (starting with a hand-me-down 4-track recorder from my dad, which was awesome), I used it to its limits. Instead of waiting until I had a certain piece of equipment, I took what hodgepodge of tools I had on hand and made due. If I believe anything about art, it’s that limitations, imposed parameters, breed creativity: the less you have to work with, the more you rely on your imagination and ingenuity, and the more personal and meaningful of a product you make. Often, anyway.

So if I’m not moved enough now to do my creating — my writing, recording, what have you — with the equipment I have, no new toy is going to fix that. It will only make it more pleasant, but not necessarily better.

That said, I’d still really like that Device.

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