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For years I’ve been searching for a meaningful reason to be creative. The problem of my motivation plagues me. I am afraid sometimes that I am creating for unhealthy reasons.
Up to now I’ve always considered my writing as either a service to myself or a gift to the world. If the second one sounds arrogant, remember that I’ve needed that kind of thinking to keep me going in the face of complete rejection and indifference towards 98% of what I’ve done. In any case, I do sometimes maintain a sense that I am putting good things into the world when I write.
The adage is that an amateur does it for themselves and a professional does it for their audience. I’ve striven over the years to come closer to that sense of the professional, really dedicating myself to thinking about what people actually want and need, and providing it. But behind it was another question: Why do it for my audience?
Obviously I could do it because I think my work will somehow enlighten them. Or I could do it because they’re going to pay me and I want the money. But I discovered a better reason.
In the guided meditation class I am taking, Cognitively Based Compassion Training, we talked about how dependent we are on one another. From the clothes on our backs to the water in our pipes, each thing upon which we depend comes to us out of the work, even the kindness of thousands of other individuals.
It’s important to me that I begin to realize just how much I get from others. I don’t like to ask for help, generally. I much prefer to give it.
This is beyond getting help, though. This is about getting things you need from people you don’t even see. It’s about recognizing the profound interconnection we have, and the gratitude we should show.
So what if I decided to create my writing, to compose my music, even to perform my songs in order to take care of my audience? Not because they need me, but because I need them. I could dedicate myself to taking care of the world because I need it to survive!
This is not a parasitic relationship. I’m not manipulating my audience into giving me what I need. I’m putting useful and beautiful things into the world in a way that is unique to my abilities, therefore acknowledging all the gifts that enable me to do so.
That seems like such a healthy, such a wholesome way of working. It’s an antidote to self-delusion, misguided altruism, and even selfish motives. It’s simply an acknowledgment that I have the power to help myself by taking care of my world, and this is the way I can do that.
Do you have a response to this? Am I fooling myself once again? Or have I finally found a reason to create?