For over twenty years I've had the time to paint, carve, sew, photograph, or create whatever I dreamed of. It just never happened.
Unless I was in a class, working with other people, part of that exciting sharing environment, I didn't create much at home. A painting now and then, a collage, projects here and there. But even though I've had the time and space, studied art in college, and have a complete mental backload of creative projects that really mean a lot when I look at them, I've realized through this mala-making job that I am not motivated to create simply for visual or conceptual reasons..
This came to mind as I strung a mala, thinking about the simple fulfillment of connecting with a customer who wants one, about the constant flow of malas going out of my hands and into the world. (Sure, this is hyperbole, but since it's a philosophical post, it fits.)
The Shakers had it right about creativity: "making something well is in itself, 'an act of prayer.'"
Form follows function. A beautiful, simply made chair has it's own elegance and sacred nature.
In my own esthetic I am totally devoted to making beautiful, useful items. The malas have few adornments, since that is the Tibetan ideal in prayer beads. Other things I create are more decorative, but the malas are simple.
I am motivated to brighten up those little spots of life that might need the colors of a rainbow of stones, the cohesiveness of the curve of a mala, the stability of stone and wood.
Stones, shells, and wood remind us in a deep way of nature. Nature reminds us, of course, of our true nature.
It's all about coming home.