Life’s Better When You’re Making Things

If quarantine time has taught us anything — and it’s taught me many things — it’s that we humans are inherently driven to make things. When gazing at our little goggleboxes grows tiresome; when we are limited in our ability to gather at restaurants, bars, gyms, or offices and distract each other, eventually we will say to ourselves, “I would really like to make something.”

Maybe we will start small with a loaf of banana bread; maybe we will aim a bit higher with sourdough. Maybe we film an elaborate tiktok with our family. Maybe we will tear up all the carpet in the upstairs bedrooms and refinish the hardwood floors. Maybe we will design an app for timing the maturation of a sourdough starter or create a home-built drone out of Lego blocks and a kit bought online. Maybe we’ll finish the scrapbook we started two years ago or take up knitting.

At some point just sitting there and taking it all in just isn’t enough. You got to make something. What is satisfying about creating things, even if they’re not Martha-Stewart-perfect? I’m not sure, but it feels so elemental, it must be encoded in the human genome. “I made this!” cried the cave-person who painted on the walls in Altamira. “And so did I!” shouted the much-later human who created the wheel and axle. “As did we!” said the various people who invented and improved the telescope. Leaving aside questions of who got there first, and whether these creations were solo or group projects, or even whether these creators knew their work was going to be problematic for the “higher ups,” you just know that they felt fantastic about what they had done.

Same thing with banana bread – on a slightly more modest scale. The endorphins are released, and the baker feels, “I am here. I have forged rotten bananas into sustenance for myself and those around me. Huzzah!”

When our distractions and entertainments are whittled down to a precious few, we realize that life is better when you’re making things.

So let’s go make some stuff. Even after we get vaccinated.