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Painting by Maxfield Parrish

“Now, the energies of nature are present in the outer world, but also inside ourselves, because we are particles of nature. So when you are meditating on a deity, you are meditating on powers of your own spirit and psyche, and on powers that are also out there. One finds in practically all the religious traditions of the world (with a few excep- tions) that the aim is for the individual to put himself into accord with nature, with his nature, and that’s both physical and psychological health. These are what in our traditions are called the nature religions, and the deities are not final terms; they are references to spiritual ener- gies. So when mythology is properly understood, the object that is revered and venerated is not a final term; the object venerated is a personification of an energy that dwells within the individual, and the reference of mythology has two modes — that of consciousness and that of the spiritual potentials within the individual.” — Joseph Campbell


Rather than the need to heroically save the whole world, the real work of humanity at this time may be to awaken the unique spark and inner resiliency of genius within each person. — Michael Meade


A week after I stopped practicing law, I signed up for a writing class in creative nonfiction, at NYU. All of us students peppered the teacher with questions about “breaking into” publishing.

She told us: don’t worry about that. If you write something good, it will find a home.

She didn’t promise fame or fortune. But, if we did good work, she promised a home.

This advice was liberating, and true. And it applies to everything, not just writing.

What would you do more freely if you followed this advice? — Susan Cain

We all suspect we’re secret geniuses, don’t we? We sense a nugget of golden talent hidden under the masks we wear. But we’ve worn our masks so long we’ve forgotten what they hide or why we felt the need to don them in the first place. It all started before the age of reason when we were trying to stay out of trouble while being ourselves at the same time, our first conflict.

Those lessons of shoulds and should-nots took up a lot of energy. We may have lost touch with what we naturally loved. We may have decided early what we would do in life by imitating someone or calculating what’s the safest thing. We may have lost touch with what Hillman calls our inner daemon.

Facing a world that doesn’t care about your soul requires an ability to resist, to question everything including yourself, and to listen respectfully to your own heart. All our education goes against this. Schooling is interested in knowledge, methods, techniques, not wisdom. You will have to find your own path and follow it in spite of a lot of obstacles.

Doing something freely out of sheer personal interest is not the same as monetizing a talent. Americans are forced to think about survival before considerations of personal passion, because help for cultural creators is almost nonexistent. Compared to other first world countries, the US is strangely unhelpful to their creative folk. It’s hard to understand why, but I remember my father, who longed to write, and his unshakable belief that art was women’s work.

People get in their own way. If you can’t examine and doubt what you were taught as a child, I would go so far as to say you can’t be an artist. An artist’s work is to examine everything without preconceptions. What you refuse to examine could be where you’re blocked.

A life of meaning may require reflecting on what you take for granted and letting go of it.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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