“The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. In this long vigil he often has to vary his methods of stimulation; but in this long vigil he is also himself striving against a continual tendency to sleep.” ~ Marc Chagall
There is a tremendously destructive force at work in the world and it thrives in the minds and hearts of those who have fallen asleep in relation to their higher purpose. This force has many goals. Central among them is the nullification of the expression of joy in relation to living.
You’ve no doubt seen this force at work in those around you, where the life is gradually sucked out of them. Wonderment turns to low expectations, joy gives way to bitterness and appreciation yields to disdain whenever this force is given residence in the heart by a weak or untrained mind. It is a sad thing to watch, especially when it happens to those you love, but happen it does.
So what can be done?
You cannot force others to see the light of reason, but you can provide a steady stream of inspiration that will either: 1) draw them closer to a breakthrough in their understanding or 2) repel them if they are being stubborn. Either way you’ve done your part and to try to do any more is a fool’s errand. Doing your part is the best that you can do.
All you can do is all you can do.
If you take it a step too far (i.e., doing your part while trying to do theirs as well), your efforts will invariably come to naught. You cannot live for someone else. You cannot make them live for themselves. You can educate, assist, motivate and galvanize, but at the end of the day they must assume responsibility for the choices that are theirs to make.
Contrary to popular opinion, there is no need to struggle with this force in any of its manifestations. Men of dignity and unbending principle do not contend with this force as it seeks to gain sway in their hearts or in those of others.
Instead, they realize that living, truly living, unfolds by means of a radiant approach in all things. Moreover, they understand that radiant living is only possible where wonderment is alive and well in both heart and mind.
Do you view your world with wonder each and every day? If not, you’ve probably noticed that the lights have already begun to dim in your experience. Be deliberate about taking a radiant stance in relation to your work, your family, your friends. Rather than demand newness, joy and fulfillment from your world, look to radiate those qualities into it, regardless of how you might feel at the moment.
You are not your feelings.
Don’t be fooled by the dissatisfied and bitter voices of those who have turned their backs on radiant living. Misery seeks company because it must feed like a vampire to stay alive. Hear those who call you like sirens back to the shores of mediocrity, but give no quarter. You needn’t join in simply because you were asked.
Not every question deserves an answer.
You have the opportunity to be an artist in living and to be filled with joy, dignity and a clear sense of purpose. There is no better time than the present to acknowledge it and no better place than where you are to take the first step.
The question is, will you seize it?
Photo by S.L. on Unsplash