Lately, I’ve been battling the demons of self-doubt. (Yep, creativity instigators deal with the same crap as everyone else!) I figured it was a good time to pull a classic from the archives, originally published on August 21, 2011.
Oh gentle, creative soul, have you been beaten down by the prevailing cultural programming that says that art – that your making your art – isn’t important?
It’s a lie, my love.
I don’t care if you make a penny from what you do. I don’t care if you do it for pay, as a gift for someone else, or purely to nourish your own soul. The Universe wants you to create.
The Universe needs you to create.
What you do has value and meaning and critical importance.
Just the fact of your creating it makes it so.
I don’t care if it’s profound or fluffy, somber or silly. If it’s in you to create it, the world needs you to do so.
In my job as a Creative Instigator, I work with brilliant and talented folks of all stripes (though they rarely characterize themselves this way). I have 1:1 clients and Creative Ignition Circle members (and friends and acquaintances) who make their living from their creative efforts…
…and end up so focused on bringing in income that they stop creating to feed their own soul.
This was my own story too.
What happens when you stop feeding your own soul?
It begins to starve. It begs you for nourishment.
You may be able to silent it for a time, but ultimately you end up walking around in a state of low-grade misery.
This is not what the Universe put you on the planet to do!
Did the Universe put a fish on the planet to hike? Or a hawk on the planet to swim? Or a horse on the planet to fly?
Of course not! Fish have an innate talent for swimming; hawks for flying; horses for running. This is what they were made for. This is what they were put on the planet to do.
Anyone with any sense wouldn’t try to prevent them from doing that thing they were born for. That would just be silly. And cruel.
You, too, were born with a unique set of gifts and talents, the things that make you feel alive when you do them.
The purpose of your life is to use those gifts and talents.
Anyone with any sense wouldn’t try to prevent you from doing what you were born for. That would just be silly. And cruel.
Still not convinced?
Art is more powerful and important than our ridiculous society would have us believe
Here’s an example.
A few weeks ago, I got a call about a calligraphy commission. A recent widower, who’d lost his wife in a sudden, unexpected tragedy a few weeks before, wanted a broadside (a “poster,” as he called it) for her memorial. Could I do it?
Now, I’m very selective about the commissions I take on these days. This one was a rush job, which meant my life would be rather more stressful for a couple of weeks, but it was a job that felt meaningful and interesting to me. Money was not an issue (I’d be well-compensated for my time); I’d get to play with letters in a way I rarely do these days; the man was extremely appreciative and admiring of my work – he truly valued my talents; and as he put it, “This is the last thing I can do for my wife.”
He took me to lunch, told me the story of how they’d met, and how she died. He said he knew I was the person to create her memorial piece; he had no interest in working with anyone else.
I got to work.
Working to a client’s specifications is a different animal than playing in the Creative Sandbox. If that’s all I did, I wouldn’t be happy. But when the client saw the finished piece, stopped in his tracks and almost burst into tears, I got a bit choked up myself.
“You’ve made an old man very happy,” said this man who’d recently suffered the worst loss in his life.
I couldn’t imagine that anything would make him happy right now, only weeks after losing his best friend, partner, lover, mate.
Yet my art gave him comfort, and yes, made him happy.
“I will look at this every day for the rest of my life,” he said, exuding gratitude and appreciation.
And they tell us art isn’t important?
“But that was something someone paid you to make,” you argue.
True. But the art that I make while playing in the Creative Sandbox, art that nobody commissioned and paid for, makes me happy.
And I get emails and tweets on a regular basis from people who have been moved and inspired by the creations I (used to) send out in my not-quite-daily ArtSpark newsletter and the videos I post here and on YouTube. And when I perform in public as a jazz singer/songwriter/Uke Diva, people invariably thank me.
I’m not saying this to promote myself, but to encourage, embolden and empower you to get to that creative thing that’s calling to you.
You have no idea whose lives your work might touch, what difference it might make to them.
You do know one person it will make happy, though: you.
The Talmud says “if you save one life, it is as if you had saved the whole world.” I suspect the rabbis who wrote this were talking about the physical saving of lives; the difference between life and death. But I’ll go ahead and take the liberty of applying it a bit more broadly.
If you save one life from low-grade misery – your own – it is as if you had saved the whole world.
Is that not enough?
Tell me, what are your unique gifts and talents, and how are you going to use them to save your own life?
PS – If you liked this post, please tweet, share, like and/or send it to a friend you think might like it too. You might just be saving the world.