As an artist, it can be a challenge to maintain a self-discipline that allows us to not only keep our skills and talents sharp, but to actually improve upon them — or even lean into mastery.
I would wager that most creatives are polymaths to one degree or another. I believe we are all better served if we’re open to exploring a diversity of subjects and interests, rather than merely a typical, career-driven specialization. It varies greatly depending on one’s personality type and deep-seated conditioning and programming introduced, modeled and reinforced in our earliest years. It’s essential to glean contrasting perspectives, styles, influences, as well as the intangibles, the surprises, frustrations and unknowns that only working in disparate themes will generate. The people, places and things that we encounter, deal with, overcome, fail and succeed at, learn from, push through, and shape with our minds and our hands, will both directly and indirectly enrich a life’s tapestry.
There are many outlets for creativity, and not all of them will be entirely fulfilling in the moment, but it’s all about one’s perception of the thing. Trials and struggles and pitfalls can be at once insulting to our sensibilities, yet later become increasingly heartening and inspiring if the broader, long-game perspective is reignited and maintained. We want to avoid the inevitable soul-sap of drudgery and repetitive, mediocre work, yet these are the necessarily evils in the process of self-discovery, skill development, preferential discernment, cognitive and artistic training, research and study — not to mention how we will meet collaborators and co-creators integral to our personal development and success.
That’s a roundabout way of saying that sometimes we have to put up with bullshit, doing utterly sparkless toil with which to get to our ultimate aims. It’s not usually recognizable in the emotionally charged frustration that may be this unyielding beast of a project that is before you! But if we deny ourselves a persistent, regular and upward trajectory and momentum, we will always fall back into the pain of re-learning and re-acquiring rudimentary knowledge and skill levels. Polymath or not, it behooves us to keep at it, lest the easily accessible distractions and ennui and apathy visit us and derail our journey. We will reach exasperation and exhaustion. We will be broken and remade. We will be defeated, and we will have victories.
We don’t want to keep starting at, or near, zero.
We need to find ways to rest, recuperate and recharge without falling off the train entirely. And even if you do occasionally lose your way, remember that even in those dark places is evidence that life is more than what it appears to be. Look to others in your field(s) of interest and learn from how they surmounted the odds and found the fuel to keep the engine going — even, and especially in the face of impossible or improbable challenges. Learn to love the math of it all. Play the numbers to your favor and reward, and dare greatly to be of service to yourself and all others.
Look at life as a malleable construct, an ever-willing co-conspirator, that is designed and defined by your intentions, aspirations and deliberate choices. There is unlimited energy here. Mediocre is merely a transient event. Look again.