This Video Helps Me Understand Why I Create

Being creative is one of the most rewarding, and at times most difficult pursuits a person can undertake. I adore the fruits of my creativity, yet I would sometimes prefer to be cryogenically frozen over the feeling of angst which frequently accompanies my creative process. It's a fickle parallel universe where pleasure and pain live in the same shoebox.

That is why I take notice whenever a highly creative and talented individual shares their ideas on creativity. Any insight that supports me to better express my creativity, or dissipate the displeasure frequently associated with the creative process is welcomed. Particularly if accompanied by heady cinematography and a smooth reflective musical score. If you haven't yet seen it, watch The Great Abyss.


It was created by Australian filmmaker and composer Salomon Ligthelm, who over the course of three and a half minutes shares numerous gems. This quote is one of them.

You have to create things that are truthful, and I don’t mean truthful with a big 'T.’ But things that are truthful to yourself, that are authentic and honest, and resonates with experiences and situations that you’ve gone through.

For me, truth, experiences, and creativity are tightly intertwined. Any artist worth their salt is able to draw on personal experiences in a thoughtful way so as to give their audience something to latch on to, something to hopefully connect with deeply. As I stated in my first post, "the writers who I enjoy reading most are brutally honest about themselves and their experience." Life is too short to expose yourself to anything that is hyperbolic and inauthentic, and it hardly exists if you're unable to express yourself via at least one medium in a truthful and authentic manner.

The other gem I found in the video is a question designed to help you understand the reason you create.

My good friend Eliot always asks me ‘have you surrendered yourself to the great abyss?’ Have you come to the end of yourself where you realize it's not about you, it's not about all your talents. Because all those things form this almost pseudo reality where you find all your validation in what you do. And If you surrender yourself to it, where those things don’t become as important and you find your creativity again, you find out the reason why you create.

For me the above statement was simultaneously the most powerful, and most confusing. I couldn't understand the reason for creativity if not to display one's talents, and receive some type of personal and/or external validation. It took me some time to understand the underlying message that 'I am much more than what I do.' From watching the video it is clear that Lighthelm's most truthful, authentic, and honest work is the result of serving others. For him, creativity and fatherhood are identical as both require putting the self aside, and creating something magnificent for others. I realize my ego is perhaps larger than I hoped it to be, and that while honesty and authenticity are paramount when creating something, so is selfless service to others. For me, I create because it is a part of who I am, like breathing. I create because I am energized by watching others interact with what I made, and because I love to see the value they extract from it.

Ultimately there needs to be a separation between creativity and 'what you do,' as the well of experience which you draw upon in creative endeavours is exponentially deeper than 'what you do.' I don't know if I have yet surrendered to the great abyss, however it is difficult for me to imagine a more noble goal for a person who strives to write honestly and authentically.

If you enjoyed this post I would be honoured if you shared it on your social network of choice. Just click one of the colourful icons, or click to tweetI would love to know a bit about your creative process? Have you surrendered to the great abyss?