Okay: body, mind, spirit. Money in the bank. Circle of peers. What’s wrong with this picture? It does follow Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pretty much, where we have to take care of our basic survival, security, and social needs before branching into the actualization of right work and spirituality. What it doesn’t address, however, is the yearning for creativity, no matter what our surroundings—witness the artists and musicians in the concentration camps. Our soul yearns for expression. Life yearns for expression through us, no matter where we are.
If we have to have everything taken care of before our greatest desires can be addressed, it may be too late. No, we can’t paint when we’re starving. But working in a bank when our soul wants to be out rounding up horses is deadening to our spirit and it doesn’t serve the bank customers very well either. A friend told me that she believes she developed cancer because she didn’t listen to her body and soul when it told her it was dying in work she deplored. And we can ask, wasn’t that her path? Yes, it was, but we can heed her words and perhaps, if they resonate with us, alter our own path and journey before we arrive at a similar destination.
We have to create. We have to. It’s our nature. Remember Nick Nolte’s master painter in “Life Lessons,” the first segment of Woody Allen’s New York Stories? He barks at his protégé that she makes art because she has to, there’s “no choice but to do it.” True artists cannot quit doing their art because there is nothing else for them to do—whether their art is in fine arts, business, the home, the sciences, or anywhere the expression longs to come alive.
People can literally sour when their creative juices are not allowed to flow. And we can see those people who have soured—they’re the ones who try to discourage us. They are the ones who think of joy as a bourgeois activity. They are the ones who live in mere mediocrity and think we should, too.
A joyful heart is the inevitable result
of a heart burning with desire.
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