Everyone can walk the path, but not everyone will. Art is war. It’s a daily grind against complacency, procrastination, taking it easy and conforming.
When I was a kid I used to love going to the gym. I loved the feeling it gave me – of building something piece by piece. It was empowering to be able to control the outcome of an event. To depend on my effort alone, on how often I trained, how much I ate, how comfortable I could be with pain. Everything became important. Life is seen in a different light when you’re working towards a purpose. No one could lift the weight for me, no one would count my reps or make me go when I didn’t feel like it, it was all on me. Best of all – no one else even cared.
Sound familiar? Does anyone care if you do your practice today? Are your friends telling you to relax, to go out? Parents telling you to grow up, get a job… Go be an accountant? Shovel some paperwork? Be a grown responsible person? What are they telling you? What’s the point of lifting all that weight? What’s the point of doing all those drawings? Why are you spending so much time writing, reading,drawing, painting, looking at books, sculpting, studying? What’s the point of it all ? You’ll never make it. Give up. Give up… It’s time. Join the others. Sell some insurance, go crunch endless numbers, pack some meat in a factory.
The thing you need to learn is to work in the face of nothing that’s promised. We all grow up with a sense of entitlement. We learn as children that the more we scream, stomp our feet, refuse to do something, that things will go our way, people will buckle and give in to us, the higher power (our parents) comes to our rescue, we’ll get what we want. You won’t. Nothing is owed to you, nothing is coming to you. No one cares if you make it or not. It’s all on you. When a crab tries to jump out of the bucket another crab will pull it down. We are made to go together. There is security in the band, the group. Life is dangerous, the world is vast. If people didn’t band together, we never would have survived. In past times speaking your mind could get you crucified or burned. Society has moved on but our biology has not. You are just as susceptible to public opinion as in a time when your life depended on it. That’s why everyone tells you to relax. That’s what everyone else does. It’s safe, it works. Do it and you’ll survive. And the crab gets pulled down.
Learn to work when no one cares. Learn to take it as seriously as though you already had that job. You will not start working when someone makes it possible for you one day. No one needs to enable to you, to give you the conditions that will make you work. We all have this idea of starting when something happens. Let me be perfectly blunt here – nothing will happen. That moment will never arrive. It’s an idea, an expectation, fiction. We are addicted to magical thinking, we love movie logic. We always anticipate and expect the moment when things align for us in the perfect way and we emerge as we always envisioned ourselves to be. Let me be blunt again – you do not emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon. Your character is forged like a sword. From constant pounding and testing. From intense pressure and heat. Slowly but surely your spirit gets toughened, your emotions become controlled, you become what you want to be. If that magic scenario manifested and someone came and gave you that chance you’ve always been waiting for just because you are “you” and you deserve it – if you don’t have the work ethic, the skill, the patience, the sensibility, the thoughts, the attitude… nothing would happen. Nothing. You’d wake up the next day and procrastinate, you’ll be unfocused, yon won’t know what to do, you’ll go do something fun and addictive to pacify yourself… just like you might on any other day. And the opportunity will go and some excuse will float in your mind justifying the whole event and convincing you that that wasn’t really it. That wasn’t the opportunity, it wasn’t the right moment.
Art is war, your life is war. Each day you wake up you get to work, you sharpen your spear, you refine your skill, you go hunting, you look for game, otherwise you don’t eat. You don’t just sit and have deer and rabbits come to you, just so you don’t go hungry… because you are “you” and you deserve it… How ridiculous is it to think that way about something as practical as finding food? Why then, do we have the magical thinking of things happening for us in the perfect way? Hollywood, fairy tales, social conditioning? Forget all that, turn your back on it and pick that weight up. Stop waiting for someone to tell you what to do, no one can change you, no one can help you, no one can do it for you. The road is hard, but it’s on you. And because you are “you”, you can do it. Believe in yourself, not in the naive, magical, always-waiting way of belief, but a strong faith, perseverance and determination that no matter what, you’re not backing down and can carry the load, then you can do it. Anyone can. Anyone can do anything. How do I know? Because it’s people we look up to and people just like you that have done whatever it is you’re trying to do. Same defects, same faults, same imperfections, they just put themselves on the forge and turned up the fire.
Now come on, pick that weight up, it’s time to go to war.