“Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heartache when we read the lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths.”
The tyrant of perfectionism, conspirator behind many abandoned project and idea, mandates that something is only worth doing if done perfectly. I suspect it is a common immobilizer among creative types. I find artists of all kinds among the most courageous people I know. A truly awful thing can happen when you spend time around really talented creative people. While I can be at once wholly inspired, the nasty comparison-making mind (that evil dictator of not-good-enough) sidles up to my budding passion passion and trumps any notion that what I have to offer could be much more than the equivalent of a grade-school art project next to what has already been put forth into the world. Everyone has already done what I want to do but they have done it right and best and my efforts could be little more than amateur and cute renditions.
But the thing is of course, I have seen some really amazing, original, gorgeous grade-school art projects totally unequaled in their idiosyncratic beauty.
Art is what happens when you chase the up-welling feeling. True creativity is what happens when you follow the hunch that won’t leave you alone, the idea that makes your heart beat faster or stirs your insides and won’t quit, that little buzzing that you wish would leave you alone because its HARD. It pushes you to go to fearful places sometimes. It really complicates things. To go down the trail that beckons to you beyond reasons that even make practical sense, this is the risk of the artful life. I am not singling out musicians and painters and writers. Every life is a canvas and everyone is a creator. We create every day with our intentions, our actions, our words, our plans, our choices. Creativity is our spiritual process. It is easiest to allow each of these to be dictated by others or the society in which we live. But to give space to our deepest intuition, to take individual account for our how time and energy and focus are spent in regards to our deepest held values and desires – this makes things really messy. It demands that we shift and open and live more dangerously than is comfortable.
When something inside wants to get born, we get out of the way and get ready to be uneasy and unsteady and unsure. That’s when we see the process is perfectly imperfect. To be brave is to jump in without knowing where the bottom is. It is to potentially look foolish and – contrary to what our culture would have us believe, there are far, far worse things.
But the thing is, I think this is the way. To ….happiness.
Kathleen N. McGuire, PhD says “Pay attention to what brings tears to your eyes”. I read these words of Henry Miller’s and the river swells and threatens to jump it’s banks.
We pay attention because something wants to unfold. Its not up to us to know the outcome or anticipate what it will look like to others. Maybe its just for you. Maybe it will move something for someone else. We may never know what we miss out on by stifling that urge because of fear but we will miss something. And the world will miss our artful contribution. Because maybe someone has done or said it before but no one… no one…has said or done it the way you will.
It took me a long time from the conception of this blog to actually publish it and a long time after that before I actually shared with anyone. The fear-mongering overlord kept me captive with the belief that what I had to say would sound silly, that it would be disorganized and in cohesive, sound self-aggrandizing or that I would look foolish. Or worse….I would go back and read posts 6 months or a year later and realize I sounded less than witty or not as smart as I would like and should have said something else. Which is probable.
But that’s not the point. It’s my art. No one has to approve it.
An unknown author once put to words:
“Courage is looking fear right in the eye and saying, “Get the hell out of my way, I’ve got things to do.”