In a culture where success and notoriety are celebrated as much as they are, it often saddens me to think of how many people are “living quietly” out of the paralyzing, debilitating fear that they’ll never “make it”.
How many closet dancers, hidden painters, wannabe business owners and secret writers are holding themselves back?
How many people yearn to create, yet ignore the calling, not being able to fathom a reality in which they are vulnerable enough to fail, vulnerable enough to create bad art, or vulnerable enough to be laughed at and made fun of?
And so there they are, living quietly, not fully expressing themselves. Stifled, silenced, small. Their greatness never given even a smidgen of a chance.
There are times when I feel this way, too. Even after years of being an artist, of passionately creating, of shamelessly putting myself out there, there are times when the fear and vulnerability of it all can get to be too much, and all I want to do is live quietly. Retreat. Hide. Hold back.
And then I see things like this – a homeless man who spends his time collecting trash, turning it into creative works of art, and then displaying it on a street wall for all to see. And why? I haven’t spoken to him about *why* he creates this art. All I know is he’s been doing it for years. He’s not getting paid, he’s not getting notoriety. But there he is, creating (I assume) for the sake of creating. Just because.
And so whenever I think of playing small, hiding, holding back, repressing … I’m suddenly reminded that there’s too much joy waiting for me on the other side. The actual act of creating, seeing something made out of nothing, being witness to the power of creativity. Whether I like what I’ve created, or I hate what I’ve created, it still feels like I participated in some sort of magic. Something out of nothing.
And I wish that THAT was celebrated. I wish that the pure act of creating was celebrated and revered more than the “success” or “notoriety” that the creation garnered. Let’s celebrate and revere creative energy itself.
How could we be so selfish and full of ourselves to avoid our “callings to create” in favor of the comfort and safety of staying small? The fear feels real. The fear of how something will be perceived, of how it will come across, of what people will think or say, of whether it will be “a success” or not. How could we ever take ourselves so seriously to allow the fear to win?
The whole point is to simply create out of the pure joy and love of creation, and to let the final product have a life of its own, separate from you, not reflective of you.
And so I’ve dedicated myself to a life of creativity, with the goal of showing up and creating, detached from the outcome as much as I possibly can be, celebrating the creation itself, instead of it’s “success”. Because creative energy is magic energy. And I’m all about that magic energy.
“I never promised the universe I would be a great writer, I just promised the universe that I would be a writer!” – Elizabeth Gilbert
(who greatly inspired this post with her book Big Magic)