The Truth That Every Creative Knows

We’ve all heard the quote, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail”? It’s certainly a good question to ask oneself, and there is no doubt that it provokes a fleeting heir of possibility into life, but for a moment ponder this question, “What would you do even if you knew you would fail”?

The two questions sound very similar. In one way, they go hand-in-hand, but in another, they are worlds apart. The first relieves you of the fear of failure, which empowers you to explore possibilities. The second causes you to examine your most inner core; it dares you to endure the fear and ignite the passion that dwells within. Even if.

Anyone who is a creative will understand these truths:

- Creativity lies in the realm of possibility. When we approach life in terms of scarcity, we quit dreaming, we quit creating. To be in the depths of creativity is to abandon the idea of outcome and to live in the play of the moment. It is shedding our fears and inhibitions until we are fully naked. Fully exposed. Desperately authentic. It is the ultimate submission of vulnerability.

When you have experienced something so exhilarating it is natural to want to share it with the world. But when you are out of the moment, that amazing brain that allowed you to breathe life into your truth will do all it can to protect you from exposure and possible pain. It will tell you a multitude of persuasive lies; your work is no good or mediocre at best, it’s been done before and by people far more qualified, who wants to hear what you have to say, what if they don’t like your art….what if they don’t like you!

- The other thing all creatives understand is that there is a gift that was placed deep inside of you for which you are neither creator nor owner. It is a fire — at innate knowing — and it burns in spite of you. There will be moments when you will feel it ignited and moments or seasons when it feels all but dead. But it will always be familiar to you, the steward.

And then — when it is meant to be — that flame will build within you a yearning to give it life. You may ignore it, make excuses, and you may even be successful, but it will only grow brighter. When you come to understand that this yearning resurfaces again and again because it is a part of the plan for your life, you will know what you need to do.

In Bonnie Ware’s book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying”, the top regret expressed by the dying in her care is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”.

The reality is that we will all pass from this earth, whether we find our purpose or not. I do not want to pass wearing the armor of fear, anxiety, self-doubt, uncertainty, or comparison. As much as they individually and collectively tell me that they want to protect me, the truth is that they keep me and my world small. I want to pass fully naked and exposed, colorful and true to my own design. There is great peace in doing so, a peace that will never be found in the approval of others.