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Art Is Not War ⚔️

Based heavily on Nathaniel Drew’s YouTube video, The Most Valuable Skill in the 21st Century.

We are all Creators ✍🏻

Whether we recognise it, like it or accept it, we are creators. Each and every human has some itch to scratch, some desire to express themselves. It can be innate, and it can even be ignored, or it can be expressed exuberantly; but it still stands, we have the urge to create.

A fatal flaw would be to ignore that, yet the most tragic thing would be to treat it as if it was war.

Art Is Not War ❌

Within the urge to express ourselves, we can get the wrong idea. Sometimes, we think that art, writing, any form of creativity, is similar to the battlefield, that it is all turmoil, stress and hard work.

For some, it is. There are people who, when creating, do go to hell and back to make it work. However, for most, and especially for me, art is not at all like war.

Art is not the destruction that comes with war, art is not the pain and the struggle, there is no enemy, and there is no vengeance.

Where is the enemy?

Within war, there is some common enemy that you are going to fight. It wouldn’t be a battle if there was no enemy. You gear up, you grab your gun, sword, bomb, and you charge, all with the intention to harm the opposition.

Within art, however, where is the enemy? Who are you charging against?

With art, and all types of creativity, I cannot find an enemy. I do not want to find an enemy. The desire to create does not come with the desire to destroy or to harm; the two ideas do not coincide.

We must ask ourselves, who, or where is the enemy?

If you find yourself creating from a place of hatred and destruction, try and reshape that into a place of love, for even though anger is fuel, it is bad fuel.

Art Enables Us to Flourish.

In war, who is flourishing? You fight for glory, but even years after victory, is anybody truly glorious?

Instead, you end up with pain, suffering, death. Shattered economies and lifeless bodies, everywhere. You may feel victorious, but the tragedies are simply too immense for anybody to truly flourish.

With art, at least for me, it is the exact opposite; art enables one to flourish. It pushes one to that higher being, out of the comfort zone and into greatness.

We are creative to learn, to grow, to blossom. Not to fight an enemy.

It is not you vs anyone. Not even you vs you.

Instead, it is you with you. You are working, creating, for you.

With creativity, you work so that you can flourish, so that you can learn more about yourself, not so that you can destroy yourself, or anyone else.

Creativity Begins with an Itch, and Ends With You.

An annoying itch, one that you simply just have to scratch, or you fear you might go insane. The type of itch that bugs you no end, even keeps you up at night, thinking.

There is always something that triggers our creativity, that propels us into action, to make art, to do things. Be it a question, an experience, a demand. Whatever the start point is, it metastasises into an itch, and you simply have to go and find those answers.

What do the answers, if we ever reach them, help us with?

They help us find ourselves. As said previously, creativity is about flourishing, it is about you working for you. When you get the creative itch, and you set out to scratch it, you find out so much about yourself.

And it can be scary! It’s immensely frightening to discover who you are, or even just parts of who you are; your innate feelings and passions. But empowering, also. It would be a lack of true existence if you did not try to find yourself.

‘If you get close to what you love, who you are is revealed to you, and it expands.’

This is the point in its very essence; we create to find ourselves.

By doing what we love, from a place of love, we get closer and closer to who we are. And that identity expands, we begin to unravel ourselves, like a ball of wool, finding that there is so much beauty.

Where is the war in that?

Creativity is Not Knowing Where You’ll End Up

My course is set for an uncharted sea. – Dante.

When in war, you spend time rigorously creating a battle plan. You need it to be strict, and you need it to work. So you pour hours into creating the best plan that will destroy the enemy. Whether it actually destroys the enemy is another story.

With creativity, however, it is best not planning anything out.

It is true, that alongside our desire for creativity, we also have a desire to measure things, and to plan them out. We usually plan events out to their very end, to ensure that there is no uncertainty, and that nothing can shock us or change the course of things. Planning gives us a form of control over the situation.

For creativity, however, it is best not knowing where you’ll end up. It can be said that the worst thing you can do for your creative mind is to try and restrict it, and that is exactly what planning does. Restricting the mind to certain times or places.. it just makes the whole process of expressing yourself much harder.

Forgo the need for control, master the art of creativity by letting your mind wander, experiment, experience. Release any grip that you might have had, and let the creative mind do what it wants to do.

Let the mind travel in whichever direction it wants, allowing yourself to discover anything and everything. Let the mind flow, yield to the ups and downs of creativity. Whatever you do, try and scratch that itch, no matter the path you end up walking.

Another key part in this is thinking. We must give ourself time to think, unscheduled and unplanned time to simply wander. It is common that we have our best ideas in places such as the shower or on a walk; that is because the mind is not focused, not rigid or trapped.

That is how you will find the answers; delving into the unknown, flowing and changing. Not forming a rigid plan. Going with the heart, the mind, rather than battling with it. Embracing uncertainty, change, paradox, flow.

As Leonardo Da Vinci prided himself in, ‘Sfumato’. The literal translation being; to go up in smoke. That regards embracing everything unknown, for on the quest of creativity, you have to allow uncertainty.

To plan to the end is to reduce all chances of uncertainty, therefore, restricting creativity.

A Lack of Resistance

For some, they see art as war due to the resistance they get when doing the work, or approaching the work. The utter resistance to get started, to grab the paint, in other words; procrastination.

For some, they have itches to scratch, but they procrastinate. The thought of doing the hard work scares them, so they put it off for as long as possible, maybe even avoiding it altogether.

This resistance comes when there’s a task that you do not want to do, for a range of reasons. It could be fear of failure, fear of being laughed at, lack of resources, etc. Whatever the cause, the ending is the same; you procrastinate.

However, with true creativity, when it comes to the work that you really enjoy, there will be little to no resistance.

When there is something that you want to work on, there’s barely any friction between you and getting started. Procrastination leaps out the window!

If anything, there’s pure desire. That creative itch is all we can think about!

The very thought of setting out on the journey for the answers, of putting paint on the canvas, it excites us, thrills us. There is a true lack of resistance, and an urge to act.

Do Not Fight Against The Urge

With creativity, it can be like there isn’t a choice; you have an itch, you must scratch it. You have that urge for creativity, and you simply have to express it.

If you get this type of urge, do not ignore it, repress it, push it aside. To ignore that urge would be a crime! To do that would be to push yourself further away from the answers, and in turn, further from flourishing.

The most important thing you can do is to listen. The body, or mind, clearly has something it wants to do, some path it wants to travel, some desire it wants to meet.

There is no point in battling with that, or in making it an enemy.

Follow it, explore it, honour it. See where it takes you!

We are Bounce Pads

It is as if we are simply bounce pads for creativity.

That, creativity, paradoxically, cannot express itself. It needs a means, a way to get through and to exist. We are that means.

We allow creativity to be exactly what it is, and we must listen to that. It needs to be expressed, and it does so through landing on us, giving us that creative urge, the itch.

It can stay with us for minutes, hours, days, even a whole lifetime. It can plague us, or it can be a companion, depending as to whether we listen or repress.

Yet, the best thing to do, as said previously, is to honour the urge. Follow it, run with it, express it however you must.

When we have expressed it, in no perfect form or way, it will then bounce right back off!

In summary;

Do not fight against the urge to be creative.

It is innate within all of us, that we simply have to express our ideas, thoughts, feelings.

To suppress or repress that would be fatal.

Listen to the creative urge, try scratch the itch, see where it takes you; it will not be the battlefield.



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Sam M

Sam M

happiness in all areas of life. student 👨🏻‍🎓. 2 weekly newsletters, daily stoic meditations + occasional articles and book summaries.