Winning By Losing

My employer offers a monthly wellness program with weekly challenges. We earn points toward rewards by completing the challenges. The challenges range from bring your lunch to work to meet a daily step count to go to bed earlier each night. One challenge is to do something creative once per week. Do it more than once per week and we get extra credit. No rules. No parameters. Anything creative. I signed up.

They don’t find it very satisfying when I get all abstract with it and say I created an office precedent by using the upstairs toilet for #2 so the downstairs toilet stays fresher. Or I created harmony by moving a potted plant closer to a window in the break room. Or I created possibility by writing FREE HUGS, SEE MERCY on the whiteboard in the copy room. This is not really what they want, so now the challenge is to keep getting creative with the interpretation.

Last week I made a pot of tea and invited the janitor to join me at my desk for a tea party. He accepted the invitation. I should mention that I share an office with two other people. I created quite the scandal.

Another week I created a yoga space for lunch hour practice by rolling out my mat in an empty office. You saw a photo from that day a few posts back. I’ve invited lots of people to join me but so far no one has dared, not even the janitor.

One day I wanted to capture without words why I love the light in this room so I created this image:

You made a candle, Mercy?

No, you dolts. I made dramatic lighting. You were supposed to understand without me explaining it. (Sigh)

One week I needed a new profile photo for an online platform because my old one was no longer accurate. I hate it when profile pics are lies (especially professional headshots). I created a self-portrait to replace it which tells no lies:

What are you doing, Mercy?

I am telling the truth.

By doing what? Bowing?

(Sigh) No, by removing an image that no longer accurately represents me and replacing it with one which has nothing to prove. Notice the way you can’t tell much about me? Notice the way I’m advertising nothing? No lies. No fantasy. You assume nothing.

But I can’t even tell it’s you. 



Yeah, they still didn’t get it. They don’t want this shit. They want crafts. Or elaborate layer cakes. Or theatrical makeup techniques. The next one went over a little better though.

I created a movement by bringing some vintage baubles out of storage and adding them to my weekly rotation. This one created such a buzz that for a few days everyone wanted to take off their Apple Watches and wear their grandmothers’ pearls:

But honestly, sometimes I have no creative flow and this is the best I can do (which ironically goes over really well at work because it’s a drawing and not a concept):

Other times I create exactly the thing I imagine, like Crone At Dawn Facing A Grumpy Day (everyone said it was depressing):

There are times I’m glad for the extra credit (however depressing) because I don’t share at all, such as whenever I take a dud photo and I try to create something else out of it but the result is an oddity for which I have no practical or artistic purpose:

And sometimes no matter what I do to it I create nothing but a duddier dud (though I will often create a new word to describe it):

And then sometimes I nail it on the first try but I can’t say I created this baby and they just won’t appreciate that I created the fatigue which brought on the nap:

Creating a moment is still creating. Creating a condition is still creating. The point of doing something creative is the doing, not the something. It’s good for the nervous system, which is the same as good for the soul. See? I just created a theoretical relationship.

I’ve successfully created the opposite of a fan club. Next month I’ll probably just sign up for the step count or the spend 30 minutes outdoors one and keep doing the creativity just for me. Like art, wellness is apparently subjective.

— Mercy