Written & edited by Trevor Knapp.
“…He alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving. Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine. And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.”Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
A dear friend asked the other day how to continue creating during the dark night of the soul… how to keep loving and finding joy in creating. When your heart feels as though it cracked open and poured out into an ocean. When your eyes only seem to see grey and when fear creates uncertainty in even starting.
This darkness has its way of creeping in with clouding self-doubt, blinding one to their purpose, and stripping away love and belief in the world of what one feels called to create. When in these doldrums, taking stock in what is missing within has been integral to finding and reshaping what matters most. How does one do this? How does one nourish oneself for dark roads ahead? To hold to belief in self? To love work? Well, shit… it ain’t easy. When the wind has gone out of the sails, consider why. Re-evaluate the direction of your soul. Look to the history of Greats. Believe in yourself. Start terribly and use your mistakes as a guiding light. And most importantly: LOVE. Love oneself, love family, love friends… love searching, working. When we infuse love into our work, the fear lessens and the belief in self strengthens.
If you sense you’re still searching for love, and if you sense yourself still sitting in the “why”, then let the work rest. Think about what it is that you truly want from the work. Read some good books or take time to be present and still, whatever floats your boat. And perhaps the contemplation will be all you need and creating work will be but a wind that just blew through your life. However, say that you took time to reflect and you still have a thirst to create, but hold trepidation. Well, a place to start could be to look at history. Look at what the Masters in history created and copy them. Or don’t! Look to what draws your eye and brings you energy and joy. Don’t force yourself to love certain work because others hold them up as beacons, you’ll just find yourself back to where you started.
Now, believe in yourself. Believe that you can begin and put your pencil to paper or carver to block or brush to canvas (or hands to the piano… trying to keep it somewhat universal here ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). Pour your love of life into your medium so that others can really sense that expression. And if you’re uncertain whether your expression will make sense, for God’s sake, talk to people you trust about these ideas. If you want to show your expression, share your ideas… this can also help enhance your concepts into more tangible objects.
And of course, start terribly. Know that countless creators had begun and failed. You will too, many times over. But know how to start. Understand some of the technical ends of creating but do not overburden yourself. Otherwise, you will sit in the overwhelming and over-informative stage (I’ve done this with painting many times, it’s awful… please help me). Find shortcuts: Use projectors, tracing paper, draw on glass from the scenery on the other side of the pane. Take it from Adam’s Tirade, sometimes it’s good to admit to ourselves that we just suck at what we do and at least it will provide us with a compass on where to proceed.
So, put in the work and enjoy the hell out of it. Or don’t, and take a step back and relax. As Kahlil Gibran mentions in his book The Prophet, “He alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.” The goal is to enjoy life and to love what you do while you live here on Earth.