Creation is sacred. The urge to create something that we will leave behind after we are dead is what separates us from most other animals. I particularly love reading books and listening to music. One thing that surprises me is the way people put old creations on pedestals and denigrate the people who are creating beauty every day. It is like old things are good by virtue of being old.
Take classical music for example. I have run across plenty of music snobs who think that classical music is somehow superior to everything else. They seem to think that listening to classical music makes them smarter, classier, and better than anyone who listens to modern music. They will insult modern music, even when they are unfamiliar with it.
This makes no sense to me. Was there one (relatively short) period in human history when we were inspired to write beautiful music? Should we sit around a listen to the great works that others have composed and not try to contribute our creations to the world? I value creation. I believe that it is through the act of creation that we develop ourselves. It is in the discipline necessary to create beauty that we become great.
Consumption cannot make anyone great. It doesn’t matter what you consume. You can love classical, pop, metal, or hip-hop. You can draw whatever meaning you like from it. So long as all you are doing is consuming, you’re safe. You’ll never be challenged. It is when you start to create that you leave a mark on the world. Other people might like that mark, or deride it. But if you leave no mark, how are you better than one of beasts of the field, who leave nothing but bones after they are gone?
I like classical music. But I think that putting the creation of dead men on a pedestal is not holy. We should not replay the creations of others over and over without creation. We should challenge ourselves, strive to create. We are already leaving our mark on this planet, and it is ugly. We should strive to create a beauty to match the destruction we seem powerless to stop.
I used to think I was so intellectual. I thought I was better than people who read less than me. I thought my tastes made me better than other people. I was wrong. Someone who writes terrible music with love is more holy than someone who sits around feeling superior for consuming someone else’s creation. Writing trashy romance novels develops a person more than reading Shakespeare.
Stop worrying about whether your creation is good enough. Your favorite song probably annoyed its composer. He or she could probably only think of how it could have been better hearing it. Create something. Put all your heart into it. Make it as good as you can. It takes courage to create. We would be missing out on the beauty of classical music if the composers hadn’t thrown their all into it, even when the world ignored them.