“Once again the only thing that mattered was the work, except now he realized that the work was
Noah Hawley, BEFORE THE FALL
The joy gets lost. There are dark seasons, seasons when you forget why you’ve invested so much time and effort into a calling that seldom produces the results you hope for. Before you think I’ve gone all doom and gloom on you, I’ll say there is an alternate perspective. It’s not easy to embrace. In fact, it’s only when you’ve endured the broken, humble seasons that you discover if you have it in you to rise up and take hold of this more hopeful view.
I’m referring to life as a writer, but highs and lows are experienced in any artistic profession. It’s dangerous when you begin to build in your mind a sharp expectation of how things should be. That’s what happened in the book I’m reading, BEFORE THE FALL. This painter named Scott clung to certain ideas of how it was supposed to look for him when he hit thirty, then forty, finding himself increasingly disappointed his career didn’t pan out the way he’d envisioned. And when he fell short, the love for his craft was compromised until ultimately his craft was compromised. The joy got lost. It wasn’t until Scott was reminded of another passion he had as a boy that his love of painting reignited. Not the search for approval, awards, or accolades. The life-giving pull toward his calling.
“There is no separating yourself from the things you make, he thought.”
Yes, we create distance when it comes time for reviews or when we move on to a new project, but the fueling discovery that Scott lands on is that we are the real works in progress.
If we’re growing and challenging ourselves and becoming more in touch with humankind while we craft, well then isn’t that the point?
Does the end product not matter then? Of course it matters. But I happen to believe we reach the best results when we fling off all expectations, when we unabashedly throw ourselves into our art, when woulds and coulds and should haves are ash under our feet.
Our greatest potential shows up only when we become aware that we are the real work being created.