This world is incessantly harsh with its creative folks. They are increasingly assailed and browbeaten into surrendering (getting a job) or, even worse, acquiescing into mediocrity. The artist is becoming irrelevant. The brave few, however, do soldier on. And, our society needs them. At their best, their most sublime, they represent who we are. They are a mirror to our brightest hopes, our greatest dreams, and, even, our deepest frustrations.
The technology (and its speed — ChatGPT) has altered how we see ourselves and how we contemplate art. This creative métier, in my estimation, is about focus and concentration. It allows us to “stand back” and reflect on our place in the cosmos. This is changing, unfortunately. Many would consider a mindless phone screen to be more important than The Starry Night. (1) As world citizens, we must gather our shields and be prepared to sail forth to protect our artistic legacy. If we fail to do so, our future human development – culturally and spiritually – will become bland to a breaking point.
“Without a sincere concept of the meaning of civilization, one cannot explain why a masterpiece of Egyptian New Kingdom art counts for more than a creation of 1960s industrial design (other than in dollar value). If one cannot do even that, it is hard to see how one might set out to make serious and lasting art. To make such art — art that refracts the world back to people in some meaningful way, and that illuminates human nature with sympathy and insight — it is not necessary to be a religious believer.
Michelangelo (1475-1564) certainly was; Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) certainly was not. But it is necessary to have some sort of larger system of belief, a larger structure of continuity that permits works of art to speak ‘across’ time. Without such a belief system, all that one can hope for is short-term gain, in the coin of celebrity or notoriety, if not actual coins.” (2)
But all is not lost: the other day, I spoke with a musician – a young man who has lived here for many years. Though married, employed, and with children, he continues to promote his art. He has personally created seven albums to date, all self-produced — much like Ed Sheeran (3) when he began his career – and none of them successful.
And yet, he pushes on. He has now taken a job as a music teacher at a local high school to keep his skill alive. The question: Is he acceding to this surrender we spoke about – to the forces of conservatism and failure, retreat from his God-given talent? No, he is marching on. I was actually “quite touched.” The lesson in all of this is: “Never give up, never give in.” He will never know until the end of his life whether his efforts were worth this particular journey.
This is true for all of us. Each of us has a mission in this “piece of life.” Then comes the rhetorical question, “How do I find my particular vocation?” This can only be achieved by the self through prayer, meditation, and action – trial and error. Thus, though somewhat bruised, your creative self will come to the forefront.
The great creator and dreamer, Steve Jobs (1955-2011), leaves us with a thought: Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. (Parts of this essay were first published in February 2020)
A closing thought: It is important to develop a dialogue with you, the inner self, at an early age. In this way, you will become your greatest friend and your loudest cheerleader. This is not about vanity. There is no one like you, there never has been, and there never will be. But, you require effort and action to become that precious masterpiece.
To sum up: This week, we spoke about the artist in all of us. We noted that it requires perseverance and even a little bravery to find your true calling.
To be noted: When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.
Just for fun:
This week please ponder how to discover your path in life.
Every day look for something magical and beautiful
Don’t be a wage slave –critical thinking is great!
Quote: Your life should reflect your mission.