Drawing with crayons

Whenever I doubt my path, it helps me to read musings like this to reinforce my true beliefs. The following is an excerpt from the novel, An Open Life: Joseph Campbell in Conversation with Michael Toms.

“Years ago I interviewed Godfrey Reggio, creator of the Qatsi film trilogy (Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi). I remember him as a tall, thin man who dressed completely in black, and who lived in his office—slept on the couch. I asked him how he would define happiness.

‘First of all, I don’t think we’re here to be happy. Happiness is not something that can be sought. It is the result, the fruit of, the effect of. I believe that we’re here to live creative lives. If we can’t create our own condition of life, if we can’t participate in that, if we can’t use our energies at conjuring something that was within our spiritual imagination, within our poetic souls, which we all have — it’s not limited to a few elite — then what’s the point of being here? It’s not to get a big house, get a car, have a vacation, have social security, punch in 9 to 5. To me, university diplomas can be death certificates. Diplomas often lead to the traditions of making a living, rather than creating a living.

A life of creativity is a life of risk. It is a life of going beyond your ordinary, of embracing the odyssey, of leaving your familiar, of trying to make a contribution. It could be through art, though I don’t like that name. The word “art” has been hijacked by the Art Mafia. But, it could be through art, it could be through compassion, it could be through contemplation, it could be through devotion to someone or your children. It’s something that is creative. Not something where you’re sitting at a computer pressing buttons.

To create one’s own life is a risky business. There are no ground rules, but the road is full of mighty and heroic examples of men and women who have given their life over to creativity. Who have not sought material gain, but who have sought gain in the realm of the spirit, which, for me, is what infuses the contentment or the peacefulness or the happiness of life.’

That life that Godfrey describes is the life where you get your security from your relationship with yourself. You get it from your inner momentum. It is scary, lonely at times.

The traditions of making a living versus creating a living—anything that keeps you from discovering, embarking upon, the path that is waiting for you is probably not good. The world, its opportunities are much bigger, more beautiful, than the institutions that shape our lives. The unstated role of the institutions of academia are to protect us from the risks inherent in a life outside the norm. They can protect us from living a really full life, a life of ups and downs. A life of discovery, a life where you step outside the ground rules and embark upon a grand adventure, get transformed by harsh realities and unspeakable beauties, and bring back what you’ve experienced so that you can create something new. It could be a life that you create, it could be a work, but it is, in part, shaped out of the reality that exists beyond predictability.

You have to strive every minute to get rid of the life that you have planned in order to have the life that’s waiting to be yours. Move. Move. Move into the transcendent. That’s the whole sense of adventure, I think.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cie
    May 28, 2012 @ 17:55:19

    Definitely your best blog ever. Power to Creativity – the best reason for living!


  2. Redscylla
    Jun 01, 2012 @ 07:45:25

    I struggle constantly to deal with the fact that you can’t create happiness. I have to keep repeating that line from the Baghavad Gita: you have the right to work, but not the right to the fruits of your labor.


    • Tiffany N. York
      Jun 01, 2012 @ 09:10:53

      And I have to keep repeating to myself, It’s not the destination, but the journey that matters — the “destination” being what? Happiness? Success? I don’t even know anymore.


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