When I saw Ursula K. Le Guin speak at Powell’s a few years back, she said that she had told all the stories that she wanted to tell. She was done with writing, and she was at peace with that.
That’s how I want to feel at the end of my life.
More and more, I’m creating with the long game in mind. I’ve been writing lately about creating a body of work – my life’s work – that I can feel proud of.
If you are a creative, then you know how it feels to fight for your creative life. You know how it feels to hold the energy of exciting ideas in your head but only have a few precious hours to have an outlet for them.
You know the urgency of bringing those ideas to fruition before they rot inside of you.
You can’t not make your life’s work, because of this bright, burning creative energy within you. The only way you can truly thrive is to let it out. That energy is a force of life.
On a public level, there’s a perception that artists are egotistical and crave attention. It’s less about the work and more about having their name on it.
On a personal level, artists feel selfish for being creative. Not only do artists spend time working, but they are wholly immersed in their work, removed from the people who depend on them and the world that they know.
Believe when I say this: you are not selfish.
You can’t not create your art, as long as that bright, burning energy is inside you. The only way you can truly thrive is to let it out.
Creative work will do everything it can to test you and break you. It’s a roller coaster ride of despair and ecstasy. One day you think you’re wasting your life on an epic scale, and the next you fiercely believe that you’re on a mission from God.
That’s why it’s the best feeling in the world for someone to tell me that they enjoyed reading something I wrote. It makes my efforts worth it.
The short-term rewards are alluring because it’s the path of least resistance. It requires less pain and effort.
What if you have so much more to give? How will you ever find out if you don’t push your limits?
Can you imagine leaving this life with that fire still burning?
Focus that energy on a body of work and don’t waste a single moment that could have been used to create. Leave it all on the table.
That, I believe, is the path to happiness.
Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash