How To Suffer Like A True Artist

I have been a terrible Buddhist lately.

By lately I mean since the meditation retreat I attended a year ago. It’s been months since my last interview with my teacher, and as of writing this my home altar is dusty. My practice is like the succulent on my bookshelf. I looked
up one day and noticed that it was turning brown.

Of course, the lesson from this has been hitting me upside the head all along. The very problem is that I’m resisting the problem.

Rather than acknowledge that my practice has faltered, I judge myself harshly for faltering at all. I judge myself for neglecting the practice, but neglecting the practice is the practice. I make progress not by looking for a way around it but looking for a way through it.

As I wrap up the #60DaysUnderground Challenge, I find myself applying this very same lesson. Despite my efforts, I only completed a quarter of the first draft of Underground Book 1. I knew there would be obstacles – roller derby bouts and a retail job during the holiday season – but I expected to be much farther along.

There is some shame and disappointment. I made a commitment to fulfill this goal, and I came up short. There is also overwhelm at the thought of the work I have before me.

As you reckon with your unmet goals from 2018 and your feelings of shame and disappointment, bear in mind that negligence of the practice is the practice.

Nothing is to be learned from avoiding it. Accept with grace that you did not meet your expectations.

Nothing is to be gained by cutting yourself down. It won’t relieve you of future suffering but will only cause more suffering from missing out on the insights you stand to gain.

What insights I do gain from #60DaysUnderground?

That I love the work no matter how hard it gets.

That I can push myself further and immerse myself deeper.

That overcoming the resistance is where I draw my strength as an artist.

Overcoming your resistance is where you draw your strength, too. It’s fighting obstacles like these that make you a stronger artist, but you can’t overcome the obstacle if you’re not at war with yourself. You have to make peace with yourself if you wish to make any progress.

In every step forward I’ve made in my Buddhist practice, the only thing holding me back was myself. I’ve found that I have everything that I need but was always standing in my own way.

Whatever your unmet expectations, accept them with grace. They hold something to teach you about yourself and your work. It’s not as bad as you think it is. You have everything you need. Everything you need is right in front of you.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

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