What you want in your life is different than life itself

One of the lessons I have learned as a teacher is that every student, every artist, every project reaches a defining moment where they have to decide:

“Do I continue or do I give up?”

In fact, I think that this is one of the most important experiences in learning anything!

See, most of us spent our time safely learning in classrooms designed to teach conformity, obedience, and the ability to follow directions.

However, this is VERY FAR from where we, as ARTISTS, actually live… I mean, how the hell do you get artists to follow your directions?

To me, every artist starts as a 10-year-old not fitting in, sensing that there is more to life, feeling driven to do something different than everyone else around them. To NOT follow the directions that life is laying down for others.

When I was ten years old my father moved me and my family to a trailer park in Anchorage, AK where I saw the people around me succumb to their environment. I saw them rise up, get degrees and then succumb to their degrees. I saw them rebel and then eventually succumb to their vices.

That’s not you.

That’s not me.

As ARTISTS we don’t succumb to our lives… we CREATE our lives.

We create our lives each moment when we refuse to give up our goals, our vision, our passions.

As Artists, we are all seeking ‘something’. We all want ‘something’‘ and that ‘something’ is usually different than what we already have.

This is our power… and it is our pain.

We start with this: I’m not happy. I want more. I want to BE more. I want different.

This feeling is strong enough for us to leave our familiar shores and seek Something that has never given us anything but vague promises and small glimpses of hope.

Yet, with that hope in our heart we leave everything we know and set out to seek our own truth.

What kind of idiot does that? :-)

Maybe, the kind that is just dumb enough to think that they can live life on their own terms or, maybe even, change the world.

But there’s one problem:

Happiness is God‘s reward.

Have you ever met somebody who refuses to let happiness into their life?

One of the traps we fall into as artists is that we will allow ourselves to be happy… for a little bit… for a little moment… if we’ve worked hard… if we’ve hit all of the things on our list.

We bounce from moments of happiness and joy to moments of guilt and frustration. Sometimes even in the same day.

I’ve done it. Have you?

What effect has this had on your life? What effect has it had on your relationships? Your partner? Your kids?

Now, I know what you will say. You’ll say, “But Ryan, if I allow myself to be happy then I’ll never get anything done. I’ll stop growing. I’ll get comfortable.”

I get it. I do.

But I want you to consider that Happiness is not the same as being Content.

I’d like you to consider the possibility that you can be happy but never give in to comfort or stagnation.

Let me say this another way:

Don’t let your Drive to be better keep you from being Happy.

Don’t set up this false dichotomy where you have to choose between two impossibilities.

To help you, I want you to think about these questions:

  • What would be possible, in your life, if you allowed yourself to be happy with the struggle? Happy along this journey that you know will never really end?
  • What could change in your life, in your relationships, in your art?

Leave me a comment below and let me know because it would be a shame to wake up one day and see all the awards you’ve ever wanted in your life but feel like you missed out on life itself.

Much Love


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