There is a hidden virus, much more dangerous than any passing infection, living amongst us at all times. It drives our decisions in life, concealed in the depths of our subconscious. The more crowded the social environment we live in is, the more we suffer from it (it’s more present in the big cities than in the villages – thanks to advertising and the competitive world). It’s the virus of not being enough, of not feeling worthy. We grow up believing we aren’t beautiful enough, rich enough, strong enough, capable enough, able enough, caring enough, tall enough, slim enough, etc, etc… and we try to fill that gap with addictions such as excess food, gambling, sex, drugs, exercise… and obsessions.
This feeling of lack can become truly ripping. Why do we want to be “more” than what we are? It is an impossible to be “all” or “perfect”, as those are concepts aren’t absolute, therefore, unachievable. What we can become is “better”, as relative as that may be depending on our perception (we can always become ‘worse’ too, but there’s no better or worse in the great scheme of things, just change and movement, call it growth). Putting our life on the line for an endless anxiety of not being enough is a slow killer. It is enough to just be born and live in this world until we die. We should be happy just by being and going with the present moment. But then… why are we not? Why this drive, this relentless push? Is it perhaps because you don’t know who you are? I firmly believe we come to this world with a strong element of forgetfulness, otherwise it would be too easy and boring, and we wouldn’t learn anything. On the other hand, we are being constantly bombarded with the idea that everything that happens in our life is our responsibility, and that we have the power to control everything that comes our way, and that adds guilt to the matter, because if something isn’t right it’s always our fault. But we can’t take control our lives, if firstly we don’t feel enough as we are, without ‘having to do’ something.
However this ‘virus’ is, to a certain degree, important to create art. You see, art is almost always created from pain, and the best creations derive from a place of darkness and storms. It’s the burden and blessing of the artist. Creativity thrives in the dark, I would say.
Creative people have lower tolerance for boredom and conventionality, and our vivid imaginations equip us with more sophisticated mental tools to fantasize, think upside down and see something for which there is no practical or scientific evidence – yet. For an outsider, this type of behaviour may seem abnormal, crazy or chaotic, thinking that the artist has self-esteem problems and delusions of reality, also because we tend to rebel and be nonconformists. However for the artist this is so real that the practicality and logical matter-of-fact approach of the ‘shut-down’ people (i.e., the normal people) are nuisances that get in the way of the real stuff. Most people will want to preserve their commodities and make their environment as predictable and familiar as possible, instead of risking and tolerating failure and suffering. Truly creative people are therefore often perceived as a threat. How ironic, though, that creations that inspire us (therefore create something positive in us) are born from the darkest of places. That’s why normal people prefer not to risk it. For if creativity was as attractive as it seems, everyone would be open and fearless.
Now, thinking low of oneself or feeling not good enough can be a good starting point for wanting to express our deepest longings through art. “Nobody wants me, but they love my art”. I picture the Beast of “Beauty and the Beast” hidden in his room creating the most beautiful painting one has ever seen while drowning in his sorrows and cursing his fate. Without his darkness, there would be no such painting.
However, one can feel enough (or at least have that conviction) and still create from darkness. There are a few other dark starting points: shame, fear and anger. For example, for some people, their fear of being discovered by others of their true selves is bigger than the false personalities they portray, and so they may elaborate a fantastic persona that everybody falls in love with; I presume their artistic creations will be either distorted, or plain, or lacking depth, or showing hate, rage or violence. Still, they will feel enough as they are, after all remaining unhappy is also a choice.