Thank You

 

Image source:  www.buddhaweekly.com

 

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?

7 comments

  • Sharon
    Sharon
    YES! I love this. I need to ponder it for a while and see if it rings true for me as well. Thanks for sharing!

    YES! I love this. I need to ponder it for a while and see if it rings true for me as well. Thanks for sharing!

  • Donna
    Donna
    This may be something you are just now discovering for yourself but having witnessed your talent and interaction with others from afar, I can tell you that you have always given beauty to the world and we are better for it.

    This may be something you are just now discovering for yourself but having witnessed your talent and interaction with others from afar, I can tell you that you have always given beauty to the world and we are better for it.

  • Chris
    Chris
    I think you are on to something here Adam.

    I think you are on to something here Adam.

  • Adam Cole
    Adam Cole
    Thanks so much for the great comments. I'm glad what I've written resonates with you.

    Thanks so much for the great comments. I'm glad what I've written resonates with you.

  • Penny C.
    Penny C.
    Thank you for sharing this piece. Your insights and reflection have deepened my own. Very helpful, especially today.

    Thank you for sharing this piece. Your insights and reflection have deepened my own. Very helpful, especially today.

  • Suzannah Callaghan
    Suzannah Callaghan
    I really appreciate what you are saying here. This is beautiful and I, too, have been thinking more and more about what it means to be "of service" in the work that we do. I will take with me the idea that for almost everything in my life, I owe gratitude to other people who built or maintain the resources and systems I depend on. Thank you. Well said.

    I really appreciate what you are saying here. This is beautiful and I, too, have been thinking more and more about what it means to be "of service" in the work that we do. I will take with me the idea that for almost everything in my life, I owe gratitude to other people who built or maintain the resources and systems I depend on. Thank you. Well said.

  • Brian Lamken
    Brian Lamken
    I can't disagree with anything you say — because it's you writing about you. Also because it seems like a fine answer. Me, though, since you tagged me on Facebook, perhaps since most of what I do is nonfiction, I'm not sure the questions hold or the parameters are the same. Not that my writing and design work isn't creative in at least a broad sense. Even when it isn't a specific job for hire, though, but I'm writing my own stuff or editing and publishing others' stuff alongside mine, I don't know how much it gibes with your own impetus. Or, heck, maybe it does. I wrote in one editorial for 'Comicology' that — slightly paraphrased as it's not at hand — I wanted the magazine to publish what readers wanted to see but I wanted readers to want what I wanted to publish, and I cringe nearly every time I recall that statement even though I know exactly where I was coming from. Honestly, I just don't think I've dwelled much on the question you present, which is impressive given the vast array of stuff over which I can easily wring my virtual hands. I make what I make and I hope others like it in such a way that it supports me making more of it.

    I can't disagree with anything you say — because it's you writing about you. Also because it seems like a fine answer. Me, though, since you tagged me on Facebook, perhaps since most of what I do is nonfiction, I'm not sure the questions hold or the parameters are the same. Not that my writing and design work isn't creative in at least a broad sense. Even when it isn't a specific job for hire, though, but I'm writing my own stuff or editing and publishing others' stuff alongside mine, I don't know how much it gibes with your own impetus. Or, heck, maybe it does. I wrote in one editorial for 'Comicology' that — slightly paraphrased as it's not at hand — I wanted the magazine to publish what readers wanted to see but I wanted readers to want what I wanted to publish, and I cringe nearly every time I recall that statement even though I know exactly where I was coming from. Honestly, I just don't think I've dwelled much on the question you present, which is impressive given the vast array of stuff over which I can easily wring my virtual hands. I make what I make and I hope others like it in such a way that it supports me making more of it.

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