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Do Not Stop

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop and Why Commitment is Art

The volume of posts on this blog have skyrocketed to one per day since I started writing again a few weeks ago. There is a reason. It finally sunk in that commitment is art.

I’ve learned that practicing, or finding your art requires true commitment. The ability to sit down and write every day, to produce something worth reading, something honest and something I can publish is not only critical – it is the actual expression of the art itself. This has been an incredible shift in perspective for me.

I started out fast and wrote 6 or 7 posts right off the bat. But now I’ve hit the wall and ideas that seemed worth writing about now seem too hard, or too simplistic to write. Or if I’m really honest about it, require too much honesty. But under no circumstances, will I allow that to stop me from writing something.

This post is likely one of a few that are simply me sitting down to write. Staring at a blinking cursor, wondering what I’m going to write about. I’m practicing my art by writing this post. Not only am I doing the work, I’m also working out ideas in my own head about myself, my commitment and my passion. I’m searching for answers by writing that I’m searching for answers. Very meta, I know.

But the thing is, I’m feeling down today and don’t want to write. I don’t know if that is because the weather is bad, or because I’m just down about one thing or another. I suspect that being up or down is like the tides. They come in and go out and while you know there is a regular pattern, it’s not totally clear why you can’t change it.

The feeling I have of being down somehow has me frustrated. I keep telling myself to buck up, and then remember my meditation practice of acceptance. So I accept I’m down, sit with it and now, I’m writing about it and believe it or not, actually feeling a little better about things.

The very act of sitting down and writing this is art. It may not be world-changing art, but it is art in the sense that I listened to myself, committed to myself and allowed these thoughts to enter the world. That’s art.

So today’s post is just a bit of blatant encouragement. Don’t stop. Keep at it.

Art and Acting Out

While meditating I had a what at that exact moment felt like a massively important insight.

“The more that I practice my art (or even the act of trying to find my art), the less I act out.”

The more that you live in the present moment, the more at you become one with the universe. And acting out (pick your poison: drugs, alcohol, abuse, cheating, porn, etc.) is not living consciously. These are not compatible concepts or actions. You cannot be fully present while drinking yourself into a coma. You cannot be living a conscious life while cheating on your spouse.

Instead, search for your art and practice it. It doesn’t matter if your art is playing with your kids, or making dinner together, or painting or making a movie. So long as it’s honest and true art you’ll be fully present while practicing.

And that may be what living is actually all about.

What is Your Art?

If I asked you the question in the broadest sense “What is your art?” How would you answer?

As background, here is context from Seth Godin, an incredible writer and terrific thinker.

As for me, I am deeply struggling with answering this question. As Godin points out in the link above:

“Art is a human act, a generous contribution, something that might not work, and it is intended to change the recipient for the better, often causing a connection to happen.”

So while the answer for you might be painting or playing the piano, for me the answer isn’t “creative art” but something … else. Godin’s post ends by identifying the most difficult part, which is where I am:

“The most difficult part might be in choosing whether you want to make art at all, and committing to what it requires of you.”
I asked this question to several friends and on Reddit. The answers were fascinating:
  • Optimism and joy
  • Helping others gain knowledge that makes them better at what they do
  • Being a storyteller
  • Teaching teenagers
  • Creator of knowledge
  • Seeing the good in people
  • Be kinder than necessary

I was blown away that people had ready answers and that they were willing to share. I am spending a lot of time considering my own answer but haven’t hit on it yet. I refuse to believe that I’m not willing to commit to my art, I much prefer to think that I just haven’t found it yet.

What is your art?