What all creative work *really* is

Of course, she was dead, but nobody was talking about it.

Instead, Barrett ate quiche and quoted a movie. Colin ran around the yard making what we assumed were fire engine sounds. Lisa commented on her yard and what she’d seen on Facebook. Denise sat quietly in my living room -nodding along and chiming in about the education system as she now sees it through the lens of teaching GED classes.

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And I coasted mostly around the edges, occasionally snapping pictures on our Instax.

I like this camera. It captures permanent moments of temporary people.

My grandmother died last December. Later that month, the other side of my family gathered for a Christmas party. My father’s father stood in the middle of the room, taking a picture with his three siblings.

The moment feels like an echo to me now: Laughter ringing from the kitchen as my cousins remembered a story long past; New babies drooling on red wrapping paper to the delight of their mothers; Teenagers texting fresh crushes with sneaky smiles.

It was at this instant I stared at my four aged family members and thought:

“I am going to have to bury them all.”

After having gathered 50,000+ followers, showing up in CNBC and Inc. Magazine, and making several thousand dollars from books, I can assure you the formula for brief internet fame is relatively simple:

Step 1: Write about how a person can become successful

Step 2: Include a thought on the magic power of mornings

Step 3: Do this endlessly and with different words

The formula for meaning, though, is less simple. It involves asking questions like:

  • Who am I?
  • What am I supposed to be doing on this planet?

The answers to these questions — for me — have rotated around like some wicked carousel: I am writer Todd Brison. I am guru Todd Brison. I am rock star Todd Brison. I am broken Todd Brison. I am hopeful Todd Brison. I am missing-his-Grandmommy Todd Brison.

For this reason, I have found myself obsessed with all creative work. The very nature of its output is a rainbow of humanity.

Frida Kahlo warms me with her subtle smile, and then wrecks me with a graphic recreation of her abortion the next. Meryl Streep tickles me flitting around the screen in Mamma Mia, and then torments me with her shaking gravity in Out of Africa. Sam Cooke envelopes me with “A Change is Gonna Come,” but energizes me with “Cupid.”

To me, all creative work is a snapshot of your life RIGHT NOW. Some days feel good. Some days feel bad. Some days feel like a watermelon.

It doesn’t have to be deeper than that.

Make what you feel. Then tomorrow, make something new.

Do this forever.

Much love as always ❤

— Todd B

This article first appeared on Medium

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