Makers keep showing up in my life. You know, the people who translate ideas and mismatched parts into physical things. A car. A coffee table. A thriving business. A killer dress.
I birthed a Maker. My eldest son tinkers and toils with his hands—happier that way than any other. I take no credit. My father’s genes passed right through me and ended up in his grandson—they shared a love of all things tactile. Even when my son was quite young, I was already sighing in exasperation at another pile of recyclables spread out on my family room floor. I watched as pirate ships, space vehicles and laser guns were crafted from paper towel rolls, milk jugs, scraps of my writing I found unworthy of publication. Yes, all were put to good use by my Maker. He can see things before they are “real.” As could my father.
My youngest and I recently toured MIT. What a campus. But I was puzzled by the seemingly random piles of plywood strewn throughout the dorm yards. Our guide explained to us that those were for the students, many of whom build their own beds, desks and more. So many of us equate MIT with brainiacs who don’t quite live in the “real” world. But we found that to be far from the case. These kids design their own dorm rooms. They blow glass in the basement, creating beautiful works of art. They manipulate their physical space much as they do their mental space—seeing what could be and chasing it. They’re creatives with a math or science bent.
I love all of this.
My youngest is in a camp full of Makers this week—a tech entrepreneur camp. It’s amazing, held at one of the top schools in the country for math and science. These kids interview each other, form startup teams with a vision for a product/service, function within a budget. And, at the end of the week, they will pitch their ideas to a tech incubator in downtown Chicago. Just hearing the ideas they’ve come up with—and seeing the enthusiasm fueled by what looks like pure joy—inspires me. I wish the seasoned businesspeople I work with could be exposed to this kind of energy on a regular basis. It would reignite a spark long gone for many.
Today, I’m paying tribute to the Makers by baking my friend Kate a birthday cake. Normally, I buy, claiming eternal “busyness.” But I think those of us gathering to celebrate Kate could benefit from the good juju of something homemade. And over the next 24 hours, I’d like to bring something into reality besides this blog. I’m feeling the need to make something I can touch or taste.
It’s no spaceship, laser gun, or custom-designed desk, mind you. But I think it’ll do.
What will you make today? Maybe it’s a more streamlined space, free of the clutter that usually reigns. Maybe it’s the perfect martini, or a pasta puttanesca your family will cry over. Maybe you’re a knitter, a scrapbooker, an engineer.
Whatever it is—get to it, won’t you? I can’t think of a time the world more needed creators with a vision—and a lot of small-time Makers add up to the contributions of one or two heavy hitters. We can better shape our world, using our own two hands.
Here’s to creating. I’ll leave you with someone who says it better than I have: “When you see yourself as a creator, you can look at a chunk of marble and see the angel within it. Then you carve until you have set that angel free.” –C. Joybell C.
Set that angel free, my sweet friends. I’m going for it today.