When you say “It looks like someone has too much time on their hands,” all I hear is “I’m sad because I don’t know what creativity feels like.”

I read this comment on a blog almost a decade ago and haven’t forgotten it since. I can’t be certain where I saw it, but I believe credit is due the artist Terry Border, an incredibly talented man who began a blog called Bent Objects to showcase his whimsical art, and followed up over the years with eight books, one of which has become a musical.

The comment stuck with me because I’ve been on the receiving end of it a bunch of times over the years (especially during the Windy years) and again just recently when I posted this picture to Facebook, with the caption: “Astonished sidewalk guy.”

sidewalk man

Someone commented “You have too much time on your hands,” to which I replied “I really hate that comment.”

Boy, do I.

A lot.

I was thinking of replying with a different comment, one that would have addressed the time factor, as in “Really? The three seconds it took to take the shot, then the five seconds to post it to Facebook, qualifies as too much time?

But that’s not a comment that speaks to the real problem with the accusation.

The real problem is that no one needs to justify the time they spend for anything creative, no matter how small or insignificant others might think it is. That’s the beauty of art and creation.

There are a thousand reasons why people innovate and create. It could be for utility or to solve a problem. It could be an outlet for stress or to move through a painful experience. It could be to learn a new skill, to seek a new path, to grow as a human. Or it could be to entertain, to enlighten or simply to bring a smile to the face of another person. That is me.

When I observe something off-beat or interesting, it makes me happy and I want to share it. It’s why I took up blogging. I always said about blogging that if I could make someone chuckle for five minutes out of their day, I’ve done my job.

And if it took me “too much time” to think of something bizarre, stupid, uncanny, or ridiculous, so what? That’s my time to spend. I have never accused anyone of spending too much time on something that gives them joy to make, to do, or to experience. Think of all the hours that people (including me) invest in passive activities, like binge-watching their favorite TV series. They’re not creating art, not creating music, not dancing, not painting, not writing. But they’re creating joy for themselves and I say “Go forth and be joyful!”

The last thing we should be doing these days is raining on others’ parades for doing something they love. If it’s not hurting anyone, why even care?

After I received the “too much time” comment, all I could think was that guy would have lost his mind if he’d seen what I did to this fallen tree on one of my favorite walking routes through the woods. I carried a hammer, some nails and plastic googly eyes for three and a half miles to make and take this shot.

googly eyed bear

Too much time? Not to me. It was time well-invested because every time I see it, it still cracks me up.

And when passersby laugh about it, take out their cameras and save it to share with others, that’s icing on the cake.

I do what I do first for me. If someone else finds it just weird enough to enjoy, then all the better.

It leaves me happy, because I do know what creativity feels like, and it feels pretty damn good.

Addendum: I just visited the Facebook page of the guy who made that comment to me. In his profile, I see where he graduated college and what he studied. Wanna guess what his degree is in? Can’t make this stuff up: Art History.


Stumble it!