The Practice of Non Performing

There seems to be this idea among artists of all disciplines that you must always be on, that you must always be either working towards something, or actually performing. There's a sense of guilt if you aren't actually doing something meaningful. 

Why is that?

Our society is in a perpetual state of striving. We are told to keep moving, keep climbing, always with a purpose. We are told that in order to win, we need to always work hard. Whatever happened to doing something just for the fun of doing it?

I was reminded of this at a picnic I attended yesterday. There was a young 6 or 7 year old girl there, and at one point she was just dancing around, all by herself, with no music. The look on her face was one of supreme bliss! None of the other adults around her seemed to take notice, but I did. Part of me was jealous, jealous of her innocence and how she just danced for the pure pleasure of dancing on this wonderful September day. The other part of me wanted to take her aside and tell her,
10 years from now, and 20 years from now, remember back on this day and how you felt when you danced. Don't ever forget or lose that feeling.

I think that too often as artists, we have lost that feeling and we are compelled to produce art, to make product for a market, to always strive to get ahead. This is as far from a spiritual practice as you can get.

Like Children

Go into your studio, or wherever you create, and just play! Don't have a goal, don't worry about the end result. This is just for you, not for others. Feel that connection to when you were younger and fascinated by what you do. 

One of my favorite books that has guided my artistic path.

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few. - Shunryu Suzuki (author of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind)
You need to find yourself, find your beginner's mind, in order to not become a part of the machine. Start with finding the reason you took up the art that you do. Find the wonder of that first moment.

~ MB 


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