Do you spend a lot of time spinning wheels instead of spinning magic?
Over a soft Pinot and a pink/green Austin sunset, a fellow creative and I were celebrating her recent realization that a frustrating bout of creative stagnation was finally over. After months, maybe even years, of trying to pinpoint what was “off,” she finally stopped playing a metaphorical, internal game of “whack-a-mole” and went back to ground zero. She asked the questions: What do I love to do? And why am I not doing that?
A huge piece of the creative journey is figuring out who you really are and then dare to be bold enough to embrace it and run with it. My friend is wise; she knew that she needed to stop and listen to her creative heart. She knew that she needed to evaluate whether she was being lured by what others wanted her to be, or by what she thought she should be. She realized that she needed to go back to what she loved to do. That is where her magic happens.
It all circles back to the wisdom of one of my favorite parables, taken from a lecture given by Russell Conwell, a Victorian minister and journalist:
There once was a discontented farmer who was frustrated with his plot of land. It wasn’t big enough. It didn’t bear the kind or quality of yield he desired. It certainly did not bring him the wealth or respect he craved. Frustrated with his lot in life, he sold it, left his family and went to travel the world in search of wealth, fulfillment and happiness. He looked everywhere and mimicked the habits of others to find the wealth he desired. Finally, exhausted, angry, alone and destitute, he ended his own life. In the meantime, a man bought the farmer’s land and spent the next years working hard to plant and harvest the crops he loved. He was grateful for every plant he nurtured and relished his days tending them. Over the years, the land began to bear fruit and the man was proud and contented with what he accomplished. Finally one day when he was digging a new well, the man made an astounding discovery. Under his simple farm was a diamond mine — literally an acre of diamonds. The simple farmer became wealthy beyond his wildest dreams.
“Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas; they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them.” — Russell H. Conwell
Now…where is my shovel?