Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.
– the War of Art by Steven Pressfield
An actor in his spotlight, a painter with her canvas, or a writer and their pen. These are the places were magic actually exist. The place where nothing of worth becomes something of unmeasurable value. A presentation that moves you, a work of art that speaks to you, a melody that touches your soul. This is where magic is shown forth to the world. But what happens if an artist neglects to create their work of art?
What if Micheal Angelo had kept his paintings to himself? Or perhaps Abraham Lincoln, his words of persuasion? What if Micheal Jordan never shot a hoop? What kind of world would this be if we had no music, no written or spoken words, no works of art, no physical movements such as dance and sports, performed to show forth examples of strength, determination, and beauty? What if we merely survived yet never lived. For as we have learned from the Dead Poets Society “…Medicine, Law, Business, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”
As you continue to read this article I would ask you to do one thing. Think back to a time in your life when you felt as if you had somehow shown the world who you truly were. No matter what this activity may have been, I would ask you to hold it in your mind’s eye as together we examine what your magic truly is.
Why is your “work of art” (activity that showcases who you are) significant to you? I mean for most of us our career, so it has little to no financial worth. True, it may bring relaxation and enjoyment, but so does a cold beer and a quiet evening. What makes this activity, different from anything else? My proposal is that it allows you to express yourself. You see, it’s not about the project, it’s about the effect that the project has.
This last year I took a trip to DC. During my week there I crammed in every museum, memorial, and monument I possibly could. The trip itself was amazing but the most significant thing that I took away was not a souvenir nor a better understanding of American history, but instead the meaning of a monument. Just as a work of art, these statues were not simply showcasing a person of historical significance; they were expressing ideas, options and beliefs of real people. Lincoln’s memorial was not merely a sculpture of a bearded man but the expressed belief that all men are created equal and that equality is worth fighting and even dying for. The Roosevelt Memorial was not simply water flowing at different speeds over rocks in abstract shapes; it showed the toil of a nation and the strength of our country to overcome overwhelming obstacles. The Holocaust memorial was not simply a burning flame, but a symbol of unspeakable wrong and a plague to never allow such evil to rule again. This is the power of art. This is the power of the magic within each and every one of us.
I have never spoken to Lincoln, Roosevelt, or a WW2 holocaust survivor, yet I was able to take away their ideas, options, and beliefs by the way they were expressed through art, words, presentations, and even music.
So again, why is your work of art significant to you? If you cannot answer this question then you will be unable to use your power effectively. If you do not have an idea, option, or belief that you are passionate about sharing then your activity will become nothing more than a pastime hobby, and this world will be robbed of what you could have offered it.
When you are able to say, “this is me, this is what I believe in, and this is what I stand for” then you suddenly go from being a statistic in this world to someone who actually has the power to change it.
Why is your work of art significant to you? Because it makes a better you, and it makes a better world.
I’ll admit it, I was one of those Hunger Games adits. I read the entire series in one weekend and watched the movies in a single night. I remember hating the last half of the second book though, to the point that I had to put it down a time or two. The character of Katniss had been my hero in the first book. She fought for what she believed in and had a passion to push her forward through each and every obstacle. But once she allowed her actions to be controlled by others and lost her burning passion, she became a pathetic excuse for what had once been a true warrior. Thankfully the third book rescued my faith in my heroine as once again a reason to fight and the passion to see it through brought back the Katniss I knew.
Though we may not be contestant in the Hunger Games, we do face the same battle. When we neglect to use our reason and passion to reach our fullest potential, we to become pathetic excuses for what could have been a true artist; what could have been a true world changer. So what is stopping you?
When you are at the edge of a cliff and you know you have to jump, standing there thinking about it is the worst thing you can possibly do. As you look down at the earth below you open the door for fear to stop you in your tracks. There will never be a point in your life where you no longer face fear. Let me repeat that. There will never be a time in your life where you no longer face fear. A valiant warrior is not a soldier who has knows no fear. That is an idiot. A valiant warrior is a soldier who’s passion is greater than his fear of death. You as an artist must have a greater passion for your art than a fear of failure.
You will never make the jump; unless you just jump! Stop thinking about it, stop waiting for a better alternative, stop procrastinating and just do it. Success will never come to you. You have to go out and make it for yourself. You will never finish your book unless you force yourself to sit down, every day, and write no matter what. You will never be able to play that piece unless you put in the countless hours of practice, practice, practice. You will never be able to run that race, win that contest, or make that difference unless you start right now and never stop. You will never succeed unless you first rise above a few, or perhaps quite a few, defeats. You are the only thing that stands between you and your success.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 1 Peter 4:10
This weeks inspiration came from the War of Art book by Steven Pressfield. I would recommend this book to anyone in search of inspiration and the kick we all need to get us moving. Also a huge thank you to Praxis for requiring this reading. For anyone interested in kick-starting their future with real-world experience and skills, I would urge you to look into their program.