The Pursuit of Excellence Practical steps toward happiness

19Feb/150

Trust the Soup

Where does creativity come from? Is beautiful work the fruit of methodical, superior thinking, and grit? Or does it spring effortlessly from some bottomless source, through us, if only we relax enough to let it?

Who cares? Does creativity matter? If you said, ‘yes, of course’, then you are fortunate. For too much of my life I labeled creativity as a frivolous luxury, the domain of those with too much time on their hands. Written on the surface of my subconscious I saw: ‘artist = slacker’.

But I was just jealous.

I approached every task as, well, a task; a puzzle to be solved, a nut to be cracked. One day a friend of a friend said he “felt sorry for fools with no creativity.” He was referring to the suited up 9 to 5 types, not knowing I mingled in those ranks. I fumed in silence and labeled him a slacker, at the same time admiring his ceaseless enthusiasm in his work and life.

Over time I lost joy in my own work while taking pride in a reputation as a ‘ruthless taskmaster.’ I annihilated to-do lists and generated reams of work that wanted to be good, but that lacked… spark. Lifeless progeny.

Ruthless taskmaster lost its appeal.

I thought back on the rare times in my life that I was excited, inspired, and lost in a pursuit. I thought about the time I was compelled to throw a fundraiser concert, to write a sci-fi short story, to start playing piano again, for no apparent reason.

That work didn’t feel like work, and the results had life in them. I created.

Almost without exception those who create great work credit the same cosmic soup for their brilliance. This inexhaustible wellspring has a will of its own, a desire to manifest itself. The artist sees himself as nothing but a midwife for genius.

Creativity belongs not only to painters, writers, and musicians. We’re all born with it. You can apply it anywhere — all you have to do is trust the soup.

(Credit to Steven Pressfield’s book Do The Work for the inspiration)


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