Learn to give things up – Finding Balance
August 31, 2014
Seeking out Difficulty to Become Better, 1000 Steps to Your Goal, Update
October 25, 2014


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.


  1. Greggy Frost says:

    I watched a bunch of good motivational video’s lately, very effective… but this one is on a whole other level… kudos to you Volen, let’s forge a magnificent sword!

  2. Christopher Phoenix says:

    Great wisdom, Volen, this is just what I need right now. 🙂 Art is war, life is war… and right now the battle is keeping myself coming back to drawing when every effort I make seems to result in failure. You know that feeling, when the gap between what you want to do and what are are doing just seems unbridgeable… when you feel that you are wasting your time any time you make a mistake? That’s about where I am right now, but I can’t give up now ’cause down deeper I feel that I am close to reaching critical mass for forging my own destiny.

    At a certain point, I realize that every great artist had- at some point- to feel that particular pain that comes of struggling to make a contour drawing of a f*%@ing screwdriver when you dream of painting amazing characters and eye-popping alien landscapes. 😀

    You are absolutely right that the most empowering feeling comes of achieving a goal you set for yourself when no one else even cares whether you put in the effort. Let’s make it intense, keep stoking that forge!!

    • Volen says:

      Hey Chris, thanks very much for the comment 🙂
      I can’t help but feel like what I just replied in another comment would fit perfectly here too:
      “Learning as a kid involves no ego and absolute willingness to explore. Kids stick everything in their mouths, touch, grab, squeeze, poke and smell everything they can possibly reach, with absolutely no frustration involved. They don’t even know they’re `learning`. We know we are, we anticipate the end result and we get frustrated and butt-hurt all the time. We blame kids for being childish, but in this particular way, they have a much more mature attitude than we can ever hope to have. ”
      A kid learning to walk is “failing” over and over again, but there is no frustration because there is no anticipation or no desire for outcome. It’s simply trying something out, it’s playing with what it can do. It’s not expecting to be a world class sprinter and being disappointed with itself, which then leads it to sit in a corner instead of trying, which makes the probability of being a sprinter even more remote. There’s just no use or point to frustration, unless you use it as fuel. You can’t rush the process. But once you discover how to do one thing – you can do anything. Keep drawing that screwdriver, that’s an awesome challenge… just like sprinting.
      Good luck my friend, thank you for commenting 🙂

  3. bomazu says:

    Great post Volen. You seem to have a comprehensive understanding of human psychology. You appreciate and articulate the thought processes a person goes through as they try, fail, give up, settle and accept their fate- it makes you a great communicator for encouraging people to overcome their obstacles and continue to try. I feel ready to pick myself up and carry on 🙂

    • Volen says:

      Awesome, thank you very much for that man, really happy to hear this stuff is connecting with people. Keep it going my man, just one foot in front of the other is all it takes.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: