‘Compelled’ – Art, creativity and the dark forces that threaten it.
– A stoic essay –
The Goal: Sustainable, outwardly free-flowing creativity beyond fear and ego.
I choose now to face the dark forces within; to become present with them, learn what they desire and understand how they function, lest they continue to succeed in their attempts to derail the efforts of my creative energy; offerings begun with true and noble intentions, otherwise likely to become worthy and useful contributions to the creative pool of humanity.
I choose now to trust the wisdom of my inner self, guiding me beyond by the darkness that would have me retreat, protected and safe. Though temptation does exist to throw good sense aside and return to false, fleeting comforts, instead I strive daily toward the truth within, going as deep as my time allows.
It is an endless journey inward, undertaken willingly; a life-long process of discovery, healing and growth.
I will face dark forces within myself. Even this truth has the power to bring them forth – I fear facing fear, unaware I already am.
It seems then, the most reasoned choice is to face this daily struggle with the dark forces in awareness, yes, but released from their power of control. With due acknowledgement, acceptance and gratitude, I choose to shift my driving focus to the joy of bringing-forth the gifts of my creative energy and gifting them; to the world, to others and my own self.
There will always be those who disagree or disapprove. There will always be those who don’t appreciate, or worse it may seem, don’t notice. There will always be those both greater and lesser than you. None of this is within your control; creative energy cannot be sustained without first accepting this fact. Nor if it is you plagued by judgement, comparison or envy, consciously or otherwise, in either your actions or the thoughts you choose to entertain. Each person exists and creates on a vastly different path to the next.
Keep firmly in mind: at any time, admiration, accolades or commercial success may come or may not. Take good care to ensure the dark forces are not roused in either case. And should this happen, then notice and acknowledge without self-judgement, for now exists an opportunity to further understand, improve and fuel your creative fire as you face the insecurity or pattern you’ve exposed. So yes, crucially, be kind with yourself as you move forward, with each step bettering and energising, then channeling this energy to your chosen creative outlet, giving generously and without expectation the glimpses of truth you uncover within.
Knowing that daily, you will face fear, ego, distraction and other dark friends, then daily you must return to this place of presence and deep strength. Then and only then, as awareness shifts gently back to the path true to the self within, proceed. For once awareness is lost, the course of your journey is too. Though immediately it may not be obvious or clear to the conscious mind, in time you will see yourself far away, not from a specific destination, but from the journey itself, along with the fulfilment and joy to be moving through it. And should this happen, notice. Again, without judgement, blame or self-berating, return to presence and strength, remembering always that it can be reached regardless of circumstance, without one dollar or one friend to your name.
I choose now to let go of the desire to please; to be looked upon with acceptance and fond thought. Though I am grateful for kindness wherever I see it and choose to savour these connections, always there will be those who simply do not see eye-to-eye with my perspective, my mindset or my work. Though I learn and become sharpened from such connections, I choose to release my attachment to them, for such a habit doesn’t serve me, nor anyone else, rather, serving only to stifle creative energy and the human spirit.
Keep firmly in mind also: the act of creation is one part of the process, the act of sharing, another. The creation of a work does not necessitate the artist’s desire, nor that of the spirit of the work itself, for it to be seen or shared. You are not a slave to your creative gifts—nor they to you—but collaborators each, sharing a powerful bond. With a crucial commitment of time and energy, the bond reveals a path to the highest, most fulfilling level of human experience: free-flowing creative energy. Once glimpsed, returning to this state becomes the artist’s driving force. Once respect for the bond is lost, the path vanishes.
At times, the path to creative fulfilment will reveal itself to the artist. Other times, it will divert, dead-end or elude the artist all together—likely the subtle, subconscious work of the artist’s dark forces.
The path to creative fulfilment is revealed, accessed and most effectively sustained when the gifts brought-forth are given, allowing their opportunity to live beyond the artist’s ‘inner-sanctum’ and affect the lives of others. This is not and cannot be the singular driving goal of creativity, for neither is the artist a slave to the audience. To serve only the crowd is a dead-end path for creative energy, blurring the intention and integrity of the work as hope is set upon that which the artist does not control. The artist releases their work to free and strengthen their creative spirit and to allow others the opportunity to experience its gifts.
Do you not so willingly embrace the art created by others? How recently it was that you were so deeply moved and inspired by the offering of someone else—of which they too were co-creators—that now, you cannot imagine your life without! If willingly you take part in the consumption of the beauty and excellence revealed by art, then, to the best of your ability and in a way true to yourself, you must contribute also; your own verse, gifted to the rhythm of humanity and the universe you call home.
An artist first creates for themselves. By self-nourishing in such a way, they invest—invaluably—into their own health and happiness, and that of all connected with them. With time as the artist betters their skill, awareness and self-understanding, their ability to affect meaningful change betters also, radiating outward, flowing endlessly throughout the collective conscience of humanity.
It is a debt we are each born with. While most move through life unaware, anxious to why satisfaction and fulfilment have not made a home within them, those who pursue their curiosity—and their own artistic ideal—with commitment, trust and perseverance are gifted a deep internal peace; a grateful acceptance for the creative debt they carry and an ongoing compulsion to fulfil it.
The artist is not obliged to share all of their creativity (should this possibility even exist), but is obliged to share some, allowing it to be experienced by at least one person. Together with their inner collaborator, the artist faces this choice bravely, creatively, with calm acceptance of the uncertainty it presents.
No longer shall I allow the dark forces to withhold the gifts I long to offer; no longer shall I enable them to steer my ship off the path of purpose and fulfilment. What, after all, is worthy of such fear and such anxiety? Do the dark forces themselves not weigh far heavier than that which they seek to protect me from?
Is it not egotism and arrogance at its most destructive to withhold from the world—or refuse it—the gifts of your creativity? Consider that these same gifts came to you by way of countless others across the ages, upon whose shoulders you now stand, without whom the form of your creativity would not exist. Have you truly exhausted your creative attempts to face the dark forces blocking your path and remove them from the power to which they cling?
All artists must face their darkness—a necessary and important part of the creative act. However, keep firmly in mind: the dark forces may appear to be devious, insatiable and powerful—stronger with every speck of control relinquished to them—but with time are revealed as that which they are, habits of thought; scared, misguided states-of-mind working tirelessly to self-protect from any detected hint of discomfort or uncertainty. When faced, it is this very same discomfort and uncertainty that reveals the path to purpose, freedom and fulfilment that the artist so desires.
With the dark forces unchecked or unprotected from, they quietly slip into our lives, exploiting our deepest vulnerabilities, edging their way gradually toward control. In time, the artist becomes the snake eating itself, the bravest and most worthy of their creative offerings devoured from within by their own fear and ego; the downward spiral of creativity, fulfilment and happiness.
And should this happen; should you discover the dark forces have plagued your mind, stifled or shattered your creative spirit, stolen your gifts and veered the ship off course, then notice. Breathe and be still. Then with time, allow relief to fill the depths of your mind, for now you have begun the process of reclaiming that one thing truly yours: the power of your own reasoned choice.
First, reclaim your mind: bring yourself to awareness, presence and a willingness to understand—commit to returning to this place daily. Then, reclaim your body, time and work, setting new boundaries where required and upholding them diligently.
Remember always the resilience of the human spirit; there is no darkness from which the mind cannot return. While there is breath, there is astonishing strength within; the choice to fuel this strength, or to not, resides entirely with you.
As I continue to discover and embrace this new mindset, building it as a daily, life-long habit, it is of crucial importance to be diligent always with my awareness and self-understanding. Many times, I will certainly return to these words.
I choose to fuel the strength of my creative gifts and commit to continually bringing them forth for as long as I am able. For the greatest reward is the bringing forth. Looking back upon past creative joys, I know beyond a doubt that this is true.
I choose now to set forth, again, holding these words firmly within my mind as I take the first step into the next phase of the adventure. I choose to trust, for my ability to live the life of a calm, reasoned human, happy for the brief gift of time granted, depends on it.
– Bill Simpson, August 2020 –