Excerpt From The Artist’s Duty
The Artist’s Duty is a chapter of The Artist’s Manifesto I’m currently working on. Here’s an excerpt
The Artist’s Duty is a chapter of The Artist’s Manifesto I’m currently working on. Here’s an excerpt.
I’m busy writing The Artist’s Manifesto these days and today I’d like to share with you part of the chapter titled “The Artist’s Duty”.
Here’s an extract;
As a young apprentice, I worked with a guy called Brian. He was always on. You know those people, they never sit still, always running about the place trying to get 100 things done at once. They have many masters and serve none of them to any meaningful extent. Well, Brian was one of these. He was a nice guy, funny, witty and I had a lot of time for him. He was a couple of years behind me in his apprenticeship, but we were around the same age and came from the same area, so there was a connection there.
He was a skinny, wide-eyed and pale-skinned kid, jittery and sweating almost all the time he worked. The tradesmen we supported gave Brian a bit of a hard time. You could say he invited it on himself. He didn’t know how to bite back, how to mix it up and garner respect from them. Instead, he was a yes man, never brave enough to say no. He was ill-focused, always looking for approval from as many people as possible, never realising that he was spreading himself too thin emotionally and physically.
He typified the archetypical “hard worker” that many of us in society strive to be. He was the personification of the idea that to be worthy in this world we must set our focus of attention outside our skin and measure ourselves against the reaction we get from other people. When they smile back and congratulate us, then we’ve done something right. When we get a scolding, we realised we’ve done something wrong. This is how the western industrialised mindset works.
I haven’t seen or heard of Brian in over 20 years now. Last time I heard his name my Dad was telling me he arrived at the local pub, off his head on something screaming at punters for cash to pay a taxi. He had gone off the rails. The story was that his father gave him a tough time as a kid and now this was the result. Whatever Brian’s struggles were, it was clear to me from working with him that he lacked inner focus and direction.
Now, on reflection, I realise he was pulled asunder by everything around him. His idea of self-worth was anchored in things outside him, and therefore, his focus of attention was scattered to the four winds. I hope Brian is doing ok today and is happy. I’m thankful that during the time we knew each other, I learned and remembered something important from him.
Brian believed in the idea that says we must work hard, and in that, approval and reward would come. He’s not alone. Even the successful ones in their misunderstanding of what it was that brought about their material success say we must work hard. They forget or assign little value to the most important thing — that they were doing something they loved. We follow the universal definition of work. We go to school, we get a job, we follow the written and unwritten societal rules for success, and yet most of us feel shortchanged.
We spend our best days working for other people under the idea that somewhere in the future that elusive success or approval will come. We spread ourselves way too thin sacrificing many things including relationships along the way. Work is almost a dirty word, but we justify it because it pays the bills. The truth is we’d prefer to be doing something else. We feel we’ve missed something important along this road to worldly success — and we have.
The Artist’s Manifesto
You’ve just been reading an extract from The Artist’s Manifesto due for release in paperback on 2nd April 2018. Get the free slimmer version in PDF here.
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