Searching for the Heart of the HBG Flea

“Looks like you’ve been missing a lot of work, lately.” “I can’t say I’ve been missing it, Bob” — Office Space

I have been busy fostering and promoting the curated, urban flea market I started with my friend, Meghan. Spending countless hours and coffee shop meetings meditating on the purpose and the heart of the new business, I needed to find a clear set of virtues to guide my decisions. Pulling from personal experience and unending research, I believe I’be pieced together a coherent ideology.

In the interview for the job I currently have, my now-manager asked me why I work. More intimate than typical experience-focused fare of interviews, I told her it was to feel a sense of purpose and to have something I was proud of, something I would be excited to tell friends about outside of work. I suspect most people feel this way, yet it is difficult to sustain a sense of pride when the tediousness of daily life obscures it in murky shores. Student debt, car problems, ailing parents, child care, and stressful work environments seem to be the unavoidable baggage of modernity in the land of the rugged individual. 

This yearning for meaning could be traced to the factory model introduced in the industrial revolution, which was effective both economically and at taking away people’s fulfillment in work. Adam Smith, a writer and businessman during the Industrial Revolution believed that humans were, at their core, lazy. He believed that the only way to create productive workers was to incentivize labor through wages and make them competitive. In a recent TED talk, psychologist Barry Schwartz explains that contrary to the Smith’s model, most people are motivated to work by feelings of pride or ownership. Though rejecting modernity for pre-industrial times is foolish, acting as a prospector for meaning in one’s life is unsustainable. One proposed solution is to simply begin creating the life and the community in which we want to live.

Yet, a fear of failure obstructs creative actions, becoming the largest deterrent from any attempt. It’s easy to tell others to follow their passions. With economic and social pressures, it is much harder to see them come to fruition. Many of us allow ourselves to be convinced that creative or impractical desires are only frivilous, whimsical, and not worthy of pursuing. With a growing wage gap, life paths counter to the norm are becoming a luxury that only the wealthiest Americans can easily afford. As Picasso said, all children are born artists, society is what un-teaches creativity. It becomes more challenging with each passing year to stave off that creative purge; perhaps with a different understanding of success and welcoming communities, this can be remedied.

That is why the HBG Flea strives to give a platform to both professional artists and hobbyists; to encourage shared accomplishment, personal growth, and motivating everyone to create. Creation leads to a sense of pride and ownership of one’s work, be it a poem, a cosmological theory, or a self-assembled chair from Ikea. We truly believe that empathy, creativity, and freely flowing ideas are key in individual and cultural development. We hope to see you at our markets trying to remember how to be a child: creative, unaffected, and unafraid.


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