When you’re making art, your mind and your subconscious play together. When you write, the narrative of your story—or the structure of your ideas—emerges with just enough surprises to keep you curious.
It’s like walking in the dark, while your mind strikes matches and tosses them in the direction that leads you to the heart of what you have to say.
Sometimes, while you’re dancing with your curiosity, something deeper will tug at your consciousness. That’s when you know it’s time to stop dancing, and dive.
I call it “diving into the mystery pool.” It’s exciting. And challenging.
In the center of the pool, it’s so deep you can’t see the bottom.
Sometimes it’s murky and filled with shadows.
And just beneath the surface, you sense the fluid movement of your instinctive mind: eyes shut, yet watching, seeing, knowing.
Pay attention to what it has to tell you.
If diving to the deep places is exciting, what keeps you at the surface? What is challenging about diving into the mystery?
Perhaps the fear of being judged. Or feeling deeply. Or seeing the essence of something, when you wish it was something else.
Given all that, how do you find the courage to dive?
First, re-frame the ego’s point-of-view.
We all know to lock the inner critic—the uber editor—outside our study door when we’re just trying to get a draft written. But there’s a more insidious saboteur lurking in the corner of the room that whispers, “what will people think?”
Don’t let that question silence you. Let it inspire you.
For most of us, banishing judgment is easier said than done. On a deeper level, it’s about accepting that you are not here to be perfect, whatever that is. Mistakes are meant to lead us to a deeper knowing of ourselves, others, and life.
It helps us when we know each others’ foibles. We get to be comforted that we’re not alone, and we get to have an “ah-ha” moment—delivered by your insight.
We want your perspective. We want you to show us how you see the world. We want to follow your lit matches in the darkness, to find the treasure hidden there, that only you can lead us to.
That’s what’s so magical about art.
Second, commit to authenticity.
Being authentic is not just about being free of pretense, it’s about being vulnerable enough to feel the deep meaning of our lives, often through what we have lost.
When you’re committed to being authentic, you are willing to swim in the difficult stuff.
Your authenticity invites others to go deeper. The realness of your life means more than any idea of perfection. It’s your genuineness that moves us, because at the core, we recognize ourselves.
Even if your perspective is new to us, when you share it in a real way, we experience the universal in what you have to say: the clenched stomach; the open heart; the moment when we all peer into the abyss, and we see what only we are meant to see.
Third, the truth will set you free.
Nothing holds us in shackles more than the lies we tell ourselves.
For a while, it might feel better to skate on the surface. But when we look unflinchingly at what we are called to explore, we gain deeper respect for ourselves, grow stronger, and model the way for others.
There’s a freeing inner shift that happens when you accept the truth of a situation, rather than fight it. Maybe it’s the release of all that energy it takes to pretend.
With your emotional and mental energy flowing again, you have access to a wisdom that enriches all that you create.
Fourth, honor your spirit.
Several years ago, my dad sent me some old photos of our family at the beach. When I looked at this one, it caught my heart.
In the full photo, I’m standing with my brothers and my mom at the beach. I’m holding my mom’s hand, and posing.
Looking at this earlier version of myself struck me to the core.
I reconnected with the perspective of seeing life as a huge panorama of possibilities. And my love for that little girl—for my self—made me realign with the potential I came into this world with.
I need to live deeply, and create from that place. I don’t want to let that little girl down.
Who are you? What is it that you do not want to leave this world without doing? Writing? Painting? Singing and dancing?
Honor your spirit. You’re here for a reason.
Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by heart
and his friends can only read the title. — Virginia Woolf
Here’s to opening the leaves of your book, and getting to see life the way only you can see it!