No, The Rescue Party Aren’t Coming

There’s no rescue party, no reinforcements, no backup. You’re on your own — so quit wasting time and get to work.

Photo by Sidorova Alice on Unsplash

There’s no rescue party, no reinforcements, no backup. You’re on your own — so quit wasting time and get to work.

Welcome to The Reflectionist, a daily dose of reflection on the nature of the self, personal reality, creativity, life and work, submitted to the public record for posterity. Read personal essays and articles on the psychology of creativity to help you nurture and broaden your creative prowess.

I thought at one time that there was someone out there with the answers. Somebody somewhere knew what I didn’t know, and all I needed to do was be persistent, and I’d find them. I was sure I would discover the secret in a mentor’s words, in the lines of an old book, at a conference, or a business meeting. Whatever it was that was missing, I didn’t have it. Instead, it was out there, and I was going to find it.

I didn’t find it.

Not for a moment did I consider that my pursuit would come to nought, that I would lose all material gain made over the previous fifteen-year period. There was no rescue party, no cavalry, no such thing as luck to save the day.

Even though I misdirected my creative energies in pursuits that were to prove fruitless ultimately, I learned something infinitely valuable. That is, no matter what the field of endeavour, to achieve success regardless of how it is defined, you must go to work for the right reasons.

There are no short-cuts, no hacks, no quick fixes. Coercion tactics designed to fool the universal accounting system fail miserably. All attempts to manipulate and to coax positive outcomes without first investing in the work, end in misfortune. Because you see, just like a seed planted in the ground, all creative endeavours require their own distinct gestation period. You simply must do the work for a period ultimately unknown before results will yield.

And critically, you must work for its own sake.

This is one of our most significant challenges because many of us work for what we can get out of it. Also, we keep digging up the seed to see if it’s sprouted. And in the process, we slow everything down or even kill it.

How long it takes to develop and grow is none of our business. Our only job is the work. We’ve got to get into our daily work and stay there for lengthy periods if we are to build momentum in the right direction. Without that blinkered approach, we have little or nothing.

We have our focus of attention on bright shiny things, on worldly recognition, applause and on material measures of success, and this will never do.

Success, or the lack thereof, becomes our dominant focus and daily work suffers. Writer’s block, creative block, or whatever you want to call it, kicks in and momentum then follows that vein.

Until we can snap out of it, we can’t.

When I write or draw, I get lost. I care for little else and the I that I identify as myself disappears. It’s afterwards when I finish what I’ve been doing that thought about it comes in. I begin to wonder how the thing I just made or wrote will be received. I worry and practice self-criticism. But that’s the stuff of the ego, and in reality, it has nothing to do with what I made.

How others react is no concern of mine, unless that is, I invite feedback from people I trust to evaluate it critically. I realise that my work may not be great, that I perhaps need a lot more practice to reach an objective standard of quality, however, for now, it’s the best I can do.

To get better, my only job is to immerse myself in my work for as long as possible today. When today is over, I need to immerse myself in my work tomorrow. So on and so forth until something pops.

And like I said, if and when that something pops is none of my business.

However, popular commentary says differently. These people know little of the underlying creative process. They live in a surface level reality of laborious, effortful and exhausting grind primarily for material gain, and they try to convince us they’re right.

They say you and I must make it happen. They assume that we can.

Well, you can’t.

It happens of its own accord.

As the philosophy of Lao Tsu proclaimed; it is the Tao, that unspeakable something which comes of itself, self so, that brings about everything we perceive. You and I just need to go to work to align ourselves with this universal principle. Let curiosity draw you into whatever it is and then see what happens.

Time is an illusion. Tomorrow never gets here. There are no shortcuts and nobody is going to do it for you.

All you have is now.

So get to work.

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. I also write on The Creative Mind. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters

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