December 10, 2015

The Warrior and the Artist

Kung Fu Panda - Jacques de Villiers

Have you ever wished that you were somewhere else or doing something else? I used to want to be somewhere else, doing something else until I came across the notion of the warrior and the artist.

It helped me shift from wanting something ‘out there’ to being grateful that I was privileged enough to be given the opportunity to become who I truly am. A being who is grateful and in awe that he gets to play around a little on this planet before he is called home.

The Warrior

A warrior fights both external and internal battles. The internal battles are infinitely harder. If you know this, you are already on the path to becoming a true warrior. The internal battles are the ones the warrior has to fight every day to become who she truly is.

The warrior understands that the ultimate victory is victory over self – the victory over sloth, selfishness, ego, vanity and pursuing stuff. The warrior gets that her job is to sort out her head and her heart and to strive for a life of selfless service to others. And, to work on stuff. The warrior is prepared to die for her comrades, causes and countries She’s selfless.

A warrior has little concept of time and place. He gets that wherever and whenever he is … this is where he’s supposed to be. In that moment. Because every moment is an opportunity to work on his inner self. Every moment is instructive and is an opportunity to do work that matters. Be it a mundane moment (replacing a lightbulb) or momentous one (really listening and connecting with a loved one).

The Artist

The artist speaks to the work we have to do. Too many of us are results-focused and we want to produce something tangible. I get that. In our work life, we’re paid for results, aren’t we? But how many of us are like artists, taking joy from the process? How many of us love the work for the work’s sake and not just for the result? Artists are nurtured by the actual doing of the work …the painting, the writing, communicating with a child, washing the dog, washing dishes, calculating a sum, solving a problem, taking a photo, serving somebody a cup of coffee, meditating. It matters not what they do because it’s all art to them. Everything we do is creation. And, I’m sure you get that we’re all artists. We all create something, no matter how insignificant we may think it is. Artists know that sometimes we’ll produce mediocrity and sometimes we’ll produce a masterpiece.

Both artists and warriors don’t wish to be doing anything else but what they are doing in this moment. Why? Because we’re creators and it makes us happy to create. Because we are warriors and it gives us a chance to fight the inner battles and become truly who he is.

However, choosing the warrior path is not easy because we actually have to deal with ourselves. And, more often than not, it’s not pretty. So, we choose not to deal with ourselves and distract ourselves with that outside of us. But, I think we owe it to ourselves to do the inner work because it’s so awesome to have been given the opportunity to play in this human endeavour, albeit for such a short time. I love Carl Jung’s take on finding oneself: “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

And, of course, choosing the life of an artist is not easy, either. Creating is not easy. It’s messy. It’s chaotic. It’s failure after failure. It’s inconvenient and seldom goes to plan. But it’s necessary. Because it’s the attention we give the moment we are in where the real magic happens. This is when we create something wondrous. Something that makes the soul sing. Something called art.

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