Lately I've been feeling under-motivated - a form of year-end creation fatigue, no doubt. I've taken to revisiting books that initially inspired me to take the artistic leap, just to see if I could recapture some enthusiasm.
I came across this quote from "Re-Inventing Yourself" by Steve Chandler: "What if everyone in America was doing everything they could to avoid effort - and yet the secret of happiness was, in fact, effort?"
Effort is one of those double edged swords. We can put forth tremendous effort, rolling that rock up the hill, then realize that chance, or fate, or a random change in the weather can send us back to our starting place. Why do it? Why fight when the odds against us don't play fair? We can throw in the towel, close the studio door and find something else we could be good at, something easier than this art thing.
It's a good question. Why do it? We can limit our understanding of effort in terms of cause and effect, that concentrated effort must result in expected success, and wander down a path toward something else, something easier. And what do we find there? "The biggest lie humankind has told itself in the past 50 years," Chandler says, "is that happiness is available without effort."
I ventured into my studio after a week of having the door closed. It was cold because there are two windows and only one heating vent, and with the door closed warm air from the rest of the house can't get in. If we shut ourselves off from the effort of creating we become like this cold studio. The longer the door is closed the emptier the space becomes, until there is nothing left of our desire to create.
It takes effort to leave that door open when the room is so cold. Effort to pull out the canvas and squeeze out the paint.
But ask yourself one question: when am I the happiest?