Thursday, December 11, 2014

Addressing Fears in the Creative Life: Part 4—Insignificance

The fear of insignificance in the creative life asks, What if what we have to share with the world is meaningless—inconsequential, boring, unimportant?
You know what I think? I think we need to get over ourselves. If we are called to a creative life—and I hope you believe nearly every good human pursuit is fueled by creativity—then who are we to let this fear have its way? Instead, we can fight it by considering some of its roots.

·         Consider the role of comparison. Politics, social injustice, religion, the ills of the world. Those who address such gravitas subjects produce the only work of real significance. Well, that is what I have thought again and again as I read (or edit) the excellent blog posts, articles, and books that address those topics even though I am not called to write about them. And award-winning, best-selling, most-viewed, showcased creatives produce the only truly significant work, right? Uh, no.

We should not make creative choices based on comparison but find our own calling and believe that its significance will become clear. Doing our bestcrafting the best we know howis important. But weighing the significance of others' work against our own is a waste of time.

They don't make a scale that ever told the truth about value, about worth, about significance.”

·         Consider the role of self-condemation. If we think we are insignificant, unimportant, we are more likely to think our work—in whatever creative medium we tell our stories—is insignificant. But every person has worth, and a creative life can reveal that worth if we work with humility and diligence. No one at all serious about their creative life sets out to produce that which is meaningless, which is not to say that work cannot be lighthearted, whimsical, even silly; giving others some fun is a worthy goal.

But sometimes we strike out—and know it. We don’t always hit the ball out of the park, depending on how we define the boundaries of the park and whether or not a home run was our goal. Or we have much to learn before we are truly up to bat. But if we let ourselves slip into a self-condemnation that rolls right into our creative life, that creative life can die. That should be the greater fear. (Also, who knew I would ever use baseball analogy.)

“The richest most meaningful stories are found in small places: made, carried, crafted, told, and retold by apparently unimportant people.”

·         Consider the role of ingratitude. In my last post in this series—about the fear of indifference—I said, “I can't tell you how encouraging a thing like living the creative life is when you love the climb itself—even in a sometimes, seemingly indifferent world.” There is significance in the work itself. It is not the Source of happy (meaning content, meaningful) life, but it is one significant source for which I am grateful.

When we recognize creativity in our lives as the gift it is, when we are grateful for each spark no matter what our walk in life, we can enjoy the work itself and put the fear of insignificance in its place.

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”

Read "Addressing Fears in the Creative Life: Part 5—Criticism" on Monday, December 15.

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