I think I am a selfish person and that being creative makes you that way. One of my nasty dark fears is of other people’s needs taking me from my work. It’s not a nice way to think, but sometimes this panic goes through me.
In the last couple of years my parent’s health has declined. They need a lot more of my time even when things are going well and when something goes wrong, everything else in my world gets dropped.
So I worry about getting my big break with my novel and then not being able to run with it because my support is needed elsewhere.
Another one is wondering how my husband and I will age. What if he gets a condition that needs a serious amount of my support from me? Of course I could get a serious health problem too and need him, but that’s not part of my fear!
The opposite of fear is love
It is OK to have fears. They are natural, but they are not necessarily true. Many years ago, when I was doing my life-coach training, I was told that 80% of our worries don’t happen. That’s an awful lot of wasted time, energy and emotion! I have also discovered through past experience that the biggest obstacle to my creativity is not other people but myself.
In my Buddhist practice there is a concept called treasures of the heart and it comes from the following quotation from the Buddhist writings:
More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all. From the time you read this letter on, strive to accumulate the treasures of the heart!
The treasures of the storehouse are material things such as money, our home, clothes, possessions or having a job. Treasures of the body is our health. While both of these treasures are very important, they can be meaningless without treasures of the heart.
Treasures of the heart are love, our relationships, our friends and family – in short – other human beings. If we can develop treasures of the heart in abundance then we can cope with anything.
Over the last few weeks I have been challenged both by the needs of my parents and my fearful brain which extrapolates from the actual circumstances and creates even worse ones. I have found that focusing on treasures of the heart has been very helpful.
Why trust the treasures of the heart?
There is meaning in all human interaction, even the stuff that you would rather not face. Treasures of the heart will allow you to continue in difficult times.
Treasures of the heart bring humanity to our achievements. Our art is an expression of our humanity. When we are true to ourselves in what we express, we can move other people. If we can be honest about our vulnerabilities, however unpleasant, then we can really express our truth.
I think the fears that I expressed at the beginning of this blog are pretty ugly and selfish – but they are part of me. However, by focusing on matters of the heart and love, I don’t have to be held back by them.
When we can trust ourselves to face whatever is going on in our life we get a sense of flow. This flow makes it easier to create. We have to trust our lives – the good, the bad and the ugly –commit to it and then let it flow through our art.
Yes, I have been challenged by the needs of my parents, but at the same time I have developed a consistent, efficient writing routine. This might not have happened if it had not been for the constraints of my circumstances! There is always a benefit even in difficult times.
Be honest with your vulnerabilities. They make great art, whether you are writing music, a novel or making a sculpture.
Trust in the treasures of the heart to move through each day in spite of those vulnerabilities. While it may bring up your deepest fears, you will also discover your deepest strengths.
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I empathise – my mum is in a care home with advanced dementia and her care takes my time and energy, which I willingly give. I know to stay sane I also need to devote time and energy to my creative practices and writing. But it takes real choice on my part to be “healthily selfish.”
Thanks Nick. I like the term “healthy selfish”. Must remember that. I have witnessed from your social media posts the many treasures of the hearts moment you have with your Mum. Thanks for sharing those.
Yes, some gifts come in strange wrapping – so i have aimed to use my journey with mum as part of my conscious spiritual path to draw qualities out of me to be able to stay loving on this journey
It takes courage to talk about worries that create some level of dissonance between the person we’d like to be and the person we are when life is challenging. It’s always hard balancing your own needs against others’ – I would guess that in recognising the challenge, you’ll deal with it with grace. I do agree with Nick that it’s important to nourish your creativity – that’s as important a part of your own self-care as brushing your teeth!
Thanks for your encouragement Mary xx