A year ago, I wrote something as a response, a moment of clarity, around a perpetual question that nags at me: Why am I doing this?
Like many artists, the path is unclear. We’re responding to an urge that rises within us. We’re breaking norms. There is no given market for the work we make.
Like the artist Gregg Deal talked about in a Humanitou Q&A and later, again, on the Humanitou Podcast (I think), the structure we live in applauds an unpaid intern for pursuing the well-trod path without compensation. But to be an unpaid artist pursuing a calling?
An old story I’ve carried — and defeated myself with for many, many years; prevented untold amounts of creating good work and learning from “bad” work from happening — is that the world doesn’t need what I do, that there are countless artists in the world; the market is beyond saturated; who cares if I create?
Well, I care. And now and again, I’m reminded that there are others that care. Importantly, not only has the question, “Why am I doing this?” nagged at me. So has the question, “How can I not do this?” It’s the call that refuses to die.
And along the way, a year ago, it said this to me:
Create to create. To give, to shine light. For the sake of the work. Allowing longevity and wholeness of the work to be the story of where I placed my energy, purpose, value, heart … Leaving behind a collection of all the me I saw as vessel and conduit of the sacred, divine, and yet, impermanent.
I have kept this scratch-paper epiphany as a bookmark for my morning pages journaling this past year. I read it and read it again, and again. A reminder. A practice to not let me forget to keep chopping wood and carrying water.
The creating we do, the work, is the purpose; it is the result. What follows is another matter that is spiritually separate from the work. Without the work, there is nothing else to talk about. No future (and no market) for that work.