Writer and theologian C. S. Lewis gave a speech once about the falsity of the “inner ring.” That place where the seemingly popular or “in the know” people reside.
We expend a lot of time and effort trying to join them. Because we want to be a part of it. The inner ring. Unfortunately, the inner ring is a lie. You can work your tail off and gain acceptance, only to discover that the inner ring isn’t that special. In fact, you’ll soon grow bored with it.
As C. S. Lewis noted:
“The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it. But if you break it, a surprising result will follow. If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and the other sound craftsmen will know it.”
I think a lot of us are unhappy because we’re no longer the sound craftsmen. We set out with dreams and passions, but then life got in the way. Instead of focusing on our passions, we focused on conventional ambitions. Getting ahead. Meeting the right people. Courting “influencers.”
Yes, knowing the right people can be advantageous. They can open doors. But where do those doors lead? Is that really where we want to go?
A lot of us put our faith in others. We try to gain their favor. Be more like them. But deep down, we know the truth. We have forsaken the authentic part of ourselves. We have forgotten who we really are, and who we dream of becoming.
Years click by and one day we gaze in the mirror. We long to recover that part of ourselves long dormant. The artist within, longing to be released.
Creativity is a need that must be nourished. Otherwise, a part of us starts to die, and soon life has less meaning.
Money, attention and awards from others become hollow. They can’t replace the deep satisfaction and peace that comes from being the sound craftsmen. The artist who has created his/her own inner ring. A place of peace, fulfillment and authenticity that others can sense, admire and aspire to.
Where are you along your life path? Are you closer or further away from becoming the sound craftsmen? Are you toiling to join some inner ring at work or some social circles?
It’s never too late to become the sound craftsmen. Rededicate yourself today to becoming the artist and person you always dreamed of being. In the long run, the rewards will eclipse those shallow, inner circles.
(Originally published at JohnPWeiss.com)
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I’m John P. Weiss, fine artist and writer. Get on my free email list here to receive the latest artwork and writing.