Image by by Yellow.Cat (Creative Commons)
In reading dozens of biographies of artists, writers, musicians, and more, and experiencing this myself, it’s obvious that all creative people face a defining moment in their lives.
A sounding bell marks that moment. And we can either answer it, or ignore it.
If we answer the call, we can begin our lives as real artists, by using our creativity and embracing our own weirdness.
If we ignore the call, we have no choice but to conform, be complacent and agreeable, silence our inner voices, quell our wild energy with the help of drugs or therapy, and live a normal, compliant life.
This moment, this turning point, marks a bittersweet feeling in the hearts of those who experience it. It’s bittersweet, because we can either finally understand who we are, or we can reject the face we see in the mirror. We can either detach ourselves from the opinions and expectations of others and live with empowerment and self-governance, or we can grip ever more tightly to the chains of conformity, hoping that one day the world will like us, accept us, and see us as “normal.”
Tough decision. I know.
Image by sweetron1982 (Creative Commons)
What do I mean by element?
Sir Ken Robinson wrote a book on it. Being in our elements is doing the thing we’re meant to do, the thing that deeply satisfies us, the thing we’re naturally good at, the thing that stirs our souls and that we simply can’t live without.
For Adrian Peterson—see last week’s post—his element is running. For Eminem, it’s laying poetic rhymes over a beat. For Dave Chappelle, comedy. A dog prancing through a muddy field is in their element. Well, at least that applies to my dog, Cooper.
On our walk through the park today, the conditions were just right for Coop. Heavy winds gusted across the field. Little kids were scattered everywhere, walking home from school. The sky was blue and the sun was shining. The snow glistened. And there were brief stretches of hilly, hardened grass for him to gallop on.
Adrian Peterson—NFL running back of the Minnesota Vikings—is one of the greatest backs in the history of pro football. He’s also living, breathing evidence of “destiny” and “calling.” When you watch this man run, you can’t help but say to yourself, “this dude was born to run.”
When Adrian Peterson gallops around defenders and dashes to the end zone, you know he’s in his “element.” I’ve heard recently that he even has aspirations to run in the 2016 Olympics—the 200 and 400-meter dash.
It doesn’t surprise me.
If you could catch Peterson’s destiny with the flash of a camera, with an image, it would be of him running in his signature galloping grace. It doesn’t matter whether he’s running in the NFL or the Olympics, on grass or track—either way he’s fulfilling his destiny as a pure runner.
I believe that we too have our own destiny. And our density, like Adrian’s, can also be captured in an “image.”