I am continually inspired by my brothers and sisters on the path who are dedicated to their practice and generous with their time and energy.
One of the people who has inspired me is Seth Godin who introduced me to a new definition of an artist. An artist is someone who makes an impact, benefits someone and effects change. In this sense we all have the opportunity to be artists, regardless of our profession. We all have the opportunity to take a moment, lend a hand, to truly listen and share generously.
We all have an opportunity to care.
The thing about being an artist is that you don't create art all the time. Not everything you do in your day is about making an impact. Most of your day will be spent doing your job, working on the tactics, getting things done.
The artist can be busy and still make great art.
For me, this relieved a great burden, something I actually struggled with for a long time. I was carrying a lot of frustration and aversion to being busy and working hard because I wasn't able to devote myself fully to making an impact. I felt that too much of my days, weeks and months were wasted because I could be doing something better. I could be doing better work but my work itself was preventing me from actually doing that. That resistance to the nuts and bolts, ground level experience of my job (and life) prevented me from seeing and seizing those moments when I could act, when I could be generous.
The function of our work is to make an impact, but not all the time. We struggle to find meaning in our work and in our life, but we need to create meaning. If we could even spend 10% of our time seizing those opportunities to make an impact and to care, we would find great meaning in our life. It would even allow us to be really good at the busy, mundane, daily responsibilities that we need to fulfill because they would further create opportunities to create art.
I can tell you that even 10% is hard. It is too easy to hide in the busy tactical aspect of your life, too easy to keep your head down and keep plugging away at what you are doing. We hide in the busy and then complain when our work has no meaning. We fight internally against the resistance, but the resistance often wins and prevents us from stepping away and actually caring.
That is the fight, the struggle.
If we can recognize and identify that resistance, then we can actually find ways to reduce it. Once we know what it looks like and what it is trying to do, we can push through the resistance and strive to make an impact, strive to care. Start to create art.