Some years ago I had an elderly friend who told me that she feels a great need to create, and when she hasn't created anything in awhile, she starts to feel out of sorts. She was my visiting teacher from church, which meant that every month she visited me to check in and see how things were. One time she came, I showed her a coloring book I had bought at a National park. It was a coloring book of birds. I didn't buy the book for my children, I bought it for me. I decided that as I identified each bird in the book out in the wild, I would color the picture in the book. This book has nice illustrations, so doesn't look like a typical children's coloring book. I haven't kept up with it like I originally planned, but I still like it. I guess that inspired her, so she went out and bought a coloring book. She bought a children's book, but she bought it with the plan to just express herself artistically. I know coloring may not seem that artistic, but it gave her that feeling of being able to create.
I went for a period of time this past year when I didn't really use my creative abilities the way I would like. I think teaching seminary sort of saps that free time and brain power. But this summer I've been able to get back to doing what I love, which is to do creative things. In the process, I have had to buy a few supplies, but really not much. I'm sort of a "do it from scratch" kind of person, so I use the most very basic of supplies to create. For example, I would rather make salt clay than to buy already made ornaments for my gingerbread house I'm making. I can buy simple, but nice cloth relatively inexpensively rather than spend lots of money on fancier cloth. For me, doing things "from scratch" enhances the creation process.
As I was buying supplies this summer, it occurred to me that shopping can also temporarily fulfill that need to create. That may sound illogical, but I have found this to be the case with me. A person can go shopping, and come home with something beautiful, or fun, without having to go through the creation process. But that enjoyment really is short lived. With shopping, the fun is in finding the object, not in creating it. What happens is that the person bypasses the creation process all together. They have to go out shopping again to get the same enjoyment. But the creating person can continue to work on their project for a long period of time, and gets more enjoyment out of the process. It is the thinking, and planning, and artistic process that makes it so enjoyable. Shopping is a lame substitute for the real thing.
This might sound like gobbledy gook to you at first. But I want you to try an experiment. Find something that you can create. Maybe you draw a picture, or maybe you crochet something, or sculpt. Then the next time you go window shopping, compare how you feel. You will see, as I have, that shopping is a poor substitute for the inner need to create.