Making things feels incredible. There is something so pure in the instant gratification of being able to see and hold the fruits of your labor. Much of the work we do in the digital age is intangible, intellectual, and shifting, but turning raw materials into a desirable object with our hands appeals to our basic human instincts that have existed in us for thousands of years.
Even the failed making moments, the wasted materials, and the hours spent putting something together only to take it apart again is satisfying, in its own way. There is a moment of realization, followed by undoing, followed by critical problem solving bolstered by the resolve to pay better attention or use a more consistent technique. I have ripped out countless rows of crochet stitches trying to make sure my tarot cozy bags are straight and even, but it just reminds me that there is just as much enjoyment in the process as the product. Ripping out rows isn't an admission of failure, or a stopping point, or wasted time. The rows still contributed to my 10,000 hours of mastery, because those 10,000 hours are generally full of more failures than successes. Those rows made me feel more productive and present in my body while watching an episode of Angel or listening to a record, and prevented me from picking up my phone and lazily browsing while half-listening to the show in the background. It truly does encourage grounded mindfulness and quiet productivity, so unlike the noisy, busy, bustling hours that most of us spend in front of computers or on phones or meandering event hallways, doing our jobs and building our careers.
Crocheting, making jewelry, and knotting macrame makes me better at all aspects of my life. It fulfills my soul and heart, which makes me less restless and inattentive at work. It hones my focus, which makes me a better listener for my partner. It brings me happiness to make something out of nothing, which gives me fuel to face my underlying and often crippling anxiety. Overall, it makes me feel stronger. If the world were to end tomorrow, I could figure out how to crochet clothes and blankets to keep me and my family warm. I could cook meals using weird ingredients because I've spent so many years cooking with so many different things. I could make clothes and blankets to sell to other people and maybe buy little things that we needed. While my thoughts never stray so apocalyptic, it does feel good to have a tangible, hard skill that has tangible, hard value for survival.
Since capitalism and modern technology have alleviated most of our basic survival needs, we can focus on turning the process of making into art. Instead of spending my time crocheting clothes for my family, I can crochet tarot cozies for fellow tarot readers to store their cards in. I can ask my partner to help me take pictures of my products for my Etsy store, which brings us creative satisfaction as a couple. In our time, making has been elevated to a soul food, rather than a survival need. So why have so many of us abandoned the practice of making things?
It's easy to be tempted by consumer culture to literally never make a single thing for yourself. When you have cheap clothes from Target and $5 pizzas from Little Cesars, even the brokest of the broke can stay clothed and fed. We were told that buying things instead of making them would save us time, and money, and leave us more time and money to pursue the things that really matter to us. So why don't we? Why are so many of us starving for satisfaction and fulfillment? Why do so many of us feel so unempowered when we wake up on Monday morning and heat up a Pop-tart and go into work wearing new shoes from Steve Madden where we work at our Macbooks and buy Chipotle burritos and then drive home to order pizza and watch a Netflix-curated episode binge? These are the things that are sold to us as happiness and convenience, so why aren't they making us happy or giving us more time to follow our passion projects?
I am convinced that it's physics: a body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest. Consumerism keeps us in perpetual childhood, anticipating all of our basic needs while simultaneously eliminating our desire or ability to provide for ourselves. If your mom ordered takeout for every meal, who taught you how to cook? If dad never patched his own clothes and just threw them away for new ones, who taught you how to make clothing repairs? Our culture has taught us that "making" is for people who don't have the money or status to "buy," and in the process has robbed us of the true magic that making things for ourselves brings. It's very hard to break free from the stasis of consumerism and choose to start moving, to start making. But once you do, oh the magic is instant.
Making is especially important for people who practice magick. I could feel my mindfulness and connectedness to my magick growing when I started making things on a regular basis. Sitting down to crochet a tarot cozy puts me in the right headspace to dream up a new spell jar, or focus an intention that needs my attention. Making is a form of manifesting, and magick is all about manifestation of energy. If we can take raw materials and form them into something entirely new, who's to say we can't do that with energy?
If you've been feeling spiritually unfulfilled, I encourage you to take a small step towards making something. Make dinner purposefully, and I don't mean just heating up something frozen. Learn to knit, or crochet, or embroider, or cross stitch. Go outside and gather up some feathers and go to the craft store and make a dreamcatcher. Throw a tie dye party. Get a little messy and waste a bunch of paint on a repurposed canvas. You don't have to show it to anyone if you don't want to. You just have to make something to make magick.