Creating to Rock the World
I’m a big Amanda Palmer fan, and for a lot of reasons. Sure, I dig her music as a solo artist and I definitely dig the Dresden Dolls, and she’s got great personal style, and balls of steel, but she also has an amazing message.
Amanda Palmer tells us that we are the media. Amanda Palmer tells us we can make our lives better through art. Amanda Palmer tells us we can make the world better by simply being creative.
And what does it mean to be creative?
Being creative means being human.
Humans are extraordinarily creative creatures. Whether we realize it or not, we’re constantly being creative when involved in everyday acts, when solving problems, when bringing joy to the world.
I know a lot of amazingly creative people. Whether they’re making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or putting mustard on a hot dog, or dying their hair purple with pink highlights, or designing their newest tattoo, or trying to figure out how to get a lid off a jar of pickles, or making up a song to get their child or niece or best friend’s kid to sleep, these people they are constantly embracing creativity to get things done and making their seemingly small piece of the planet a better place to live.
Of course, there’s big ways to be creative, too. Writing a short story or a book, playing a song on a guitar or piano, designing a giant poster to bring attention to your favorite cause or community. Those things might sound pretty intimidating. I mean, sure I can write a book or play the guitar on a street corner, but make an amazing work of visual art? Sure, once upon a time I was an artist, and even won awards for my art, but I haven’t been involved in creating visual art for so long I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Talk about overwhelming!
And this is part of Amanda Palmer’s message. The art we make, the creative acts we’re involved with, can be big or little, and they can still rock the world. In her “Ukulele Anthem” Amanda Palmer exhorts listeners to learn to play to ukulele, to make music. It’s not difficult, ukuleles are cheap and you don’t need to practice every day. Just when you need it. Just when you feel like it. And when you do it, it makes you happy and it can bring others joy. The only catch is you have to do in a way only you can.
These are the big reasons why I write and busk. I love the acts of writing and performing. I get to meet and connect with awesome people and make wonderful friends. And I can bring happiness to a small portion of the world. And I do it in ways that only I can do. And this is the most amazing thing. I’m so excited about what art can do, for ourselves and for those we love. For strangers we don’t even know, but who we’d totally dig if we got the chance to meet them.
And the truth is, you can use your creativity to make art, too, if you like. You can tweet, or blog, or make sidewalk art with chalk, or busk outside your apartment building using only a kazoo and the loudest singing voice you’ve got. You can cook meals for your friends. Take photos. Design clothes. Dye hair. Photoshop images of politicians reading your favorite books and post the images on Facebook. Or write a book. Or another, if you’ve already written one. Write a song. Make a poster for your favorite band. Or yourself. Dance. Make a movie. Or just make an awesome peanut butter sandwich to share with a friend.
Art can be hard work, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Art is fun. Being creative is fun. And if we all embrace our creative natures, we can rock the world.
As Amanda Palmer would say, “Just play your ukulele.”
Spike Marlowe is a San Francisco busker and writer. For the month of August, Spike is donating all royalties from her book, Placenta of Love, to Planned Parenthood to provide Well Woman exams to low-income women.