The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.
— Leo Tolstoy
Why is it so hard to take things in baby steps? Why are micromovements (which seem ridiculously obvious, once you think about them) such a revelation?
I think that part of it comes from an unspoken expectation for humans to now move at a fiber-optic pace. My generation was programmed to believe that we could have most complex life situations figured out, with a happy ending, mind you, within the time frame of a TV sit-com. Today, that seems quaint and slow by comparison. We now live in an age of simultaneous, instant global connection. Studies show this is changing our entire culture’s relationship with time.
So we are becoming even less patient with getting results, both from the world around us, but also from ourselves. We demand spectacular success in nanoseconds.
We also need to be aware that once our dormant artist self begins to stir, we still have a lot of healing to do. All those years of suffocation and distortion must be sorted out gently. But it is hard to be patient. We want it all to come true right now. Oh, yes, and we are also desperately afraid of having that very wish come true.
As a result, as Julia points out, “Blocked creatives like to think that they are looking at changing their whole life in one fell swoop. This form of grandiosity is very often its own undoing. By setting the jumps too high and making the price tag too great, the recovering artist sets defeat in motion.
“Who can concentrate on a first drawing class,” she muses, “when he is obsessing about having to divorce his wife and leave town? Who can turn toe out in modern jazz form when she is busy reading the ads for a new apartment, since she will have to break up with her lover to concentrate on her art?
“Creative people are dramatic, and we use negative drama to scare ourselves out of our creativity with this notion of wholesale and often destructive change. Fantasizing about pursuing our art full-time, we fail to pursue it part-time – or at all.”
So instead of writing three pages a day on our script, we worry about how complicated it all will be if we have to move to Hollywood while the film is in production. But of course, we are making sure that isn’t going to happen, she writes, “because we are too busy worrying about selling it to write it.”
The list goes on. We can’t just clear some space next to the kitchen, we have to have a studio before we can make pottery. We don’t sign up for a beginner’s class, because we’ve read the industry magazines and our stuff is not in right now. “How can it be?” Julia snorts (yes, you can practically hear her, right on the page). “It doesn’t exist yet!”
“Indulging ourselves in a frantic fantasy of what our life would look like if we were real artists, we fail to see the many small creative changes that we could make at this very moment…
“Rather than take a scary baby step towards our dreams, we rush to the edge of the cliff and then stand there, quaking, saying, ‘I can’t leap. I can’t .. I can’t …’”
If we ever wish to find out what we are capable of as artists, we must now give ourselves the twin gifts of time and patience. Without them, we cannot really hope to recover our authentic creativity.