The Role of Courage in Art, Life, and Fulfillment
Updated: May 3
For most, life consists primarily of mundane moments, and growth happens in the slow and steady pursuit of it. This pace of life brings consistency and stability as its merits, and offers a downfall of being lulled to sleep. The apocalypse happens daily if we are taken as victims of a lifeless life. In this state we miss the wonder and joy of life, and we trade it for the stability we have built for ourselves which is a false insurance of a safe life. The catch is that the world we live in could change at any moment through any number of unknowns which could not possibly be predicted. The alternative to this existence is one of joy, beauty and adventure, and what lies between the two is risk, openness and acts of courage. When we choose courage we begin to exercise a muscle, and we give ourselves the opportunity to enjoy a true freedom, an unraveling mystery in life, and a more beautiful world for ourselves. This is the calling of all people, to live fully alive, and this is the calling of all artists, to choose for themselves and inspire that life. The roll of courage is to take the steps necessary to answer our call, live our most beautiful dreams, and unlock our potential and purpose.
Courage rarely leads to an easy moment, courage does not come with guarantees or insurance. Courage is a stepping outside of our comforts in response to the call we feel from spirit, and gambling on the stability and goodness that is inherent in God. This is a stability that we cannot control, and a goodness which reveals itself through mystery. It is scary and daunting to say the least, and it is a necessary ingredient in fulfillment in life. In the modern world we see a parade of insurance, warranty, guarantees, and convenience; what we lack is the encouragement toward challenges, tribulations, and opportunities for courage. What we lack is meaning, purpose and fulfillment. Our schools fund studies of math, science, language and sports, while they cut funding for music, arts and critical thinking. Today we can answer the call to something more, we can answer the call of spirit and champion our lives as conquerors. To evoke this greater calling in our lives is the role of art in society, for creators, collectors, and onlookers true art inspires us to dig deeper into our realities and search for the hidden treasure that lies within.
For the artist, the role of courage seems apparent. We know the phrase “starving artist” all too well in our world. I would like to offer two definitions, the one you think of and the true definition of a starving artist. The first is an artist who works their whole life to create the art they want to create and never receives apt compensation for their work. They are grungy people who have developed a disdain for modern society, those who pass by their art without purchasing, and even those who purchase their art for the low price they have set for their work, forcing them to go back to their lackluster life once more. The true definition, however, of a starving artist is an artist who is starved for meaning, who hungers for something greater in every moment of their life. This is the true definition of an artist, and this is the true role of courage in that artist’s life: to thrive for something greater in every expression of their art and life. To put one’s entire being into the creative process day after day, find the end of their rope and keep climbing in each moment to push themselves to the precipice of what is possible; and then to stand back, look at the finished project and vow to take this as a learning experience so that the next project will reach even further into the realm of heaven.
The true artist lives each day on the verge of reality and heaven; they choose courage in each moment by accepting the reality of their craft, imperfect as all things are, and still vow to see through the eyes of heaven and reach towards what may be possible. They experience the ups and downs of life without guarantee, and continue to create something new with varying degrees of success with each project. One day is a great achievement, the next is a project they get to start over from the beginning. And this artist has made the vow that nothing will stop them from reaching toward their goal of furthering the art: not money, not time, not their own pride, nor the pain that comes from a project that demands more and more of these resources. By engaging with creation in this way the artist mirrors the Creator, and they invest parts of this spirit of heaven into the brokenness of our world. As such, the artist offers society something greater than a manufactured good, something greater than a pretty trinket; the artist offers society the opportunity to take the step of courage themselves and to be inspired to wake up from their slumber and take steps towards heaven in this moment. This leads us to the role of courage for the art collector, and the opportunity to transform life one act of courage at a time.
We can now appreciate the term “starving” in a new manner and apply it as we talk now about the starving collector. Once again, I will offer two definitions; one that creates slavery to collecting things we “must have” and another that inspires meaning and depth in life through a series of selective investments in heaven on earth. The first starving collector is someone who has a buying problem. They spend significant time browsing amazon, Etsy, instagram, and Pinterest, and they purchase many things on impulse which give them a momentary high, only to sit in their never-ending storage solutions and then landfills and the ocean. This is a person who lives in their comfort zone, and hungers for more meaning in life yet is unable to move toward meaning due to the comfort that they find in their manufactured life. They are surrounded by mass produced goods, always stay up with the latest trends, and are enslaved to their lifestyle.
The true starving collector is a collector of true art, and someone who is responding to spirit’s calling in their life. They are very selective and thoughtful in their buying process, and allow spirit to lead them to purchases which become an accumulation of reminders of their courage. They connect with creators and value these relationships, and are rewarded by the knowledge that they have supported someone who is generating glimpses of heaven in the world today. In fact, they are creating these glimpses into heaven by stepping outside of their comfort zone, and choosing to follow spirit’s guidance toward meaningful interactions and creation. By stepping into the role of the starving collector, a person can make a transition in their life which ripples out in all directions. By answering the call of spirit to collect true art, they can experience deeper meaning in their life, and by exercising this muscle of courage they can experience the benefits of courage in all areas of their life.
All of life becomes inspired (filled with spirit) through the interaction of the true starving artist and starving collectors; and while we recognize that we will always be starving for something greater, we inherit deep meaning and purpose in our starving and allow it to steer us towards a more beautiful world for all. The process of creation is a complete interaction from start to finish: from the call of the artist, and the call of the collector, to the act of courage of following that call’s lead. The collector and the artist find each other, they are led to each other by their connection in spirit and realize that they were always connected. Though they may never see each other again, the collector will have their art to remind them of their courage, and the artist will have their opportunity to strive forward. Both artist and collector will be enriched and encouraged to continue following the voice of spirit. As such, a collector creates an artist and an artist creates a collector when they answer the call of spirit. When we allow ourselves to make one act of courage, we strengthen a muscle which helps us to wake from our dreary lives and step into the unpredictable, wild world we have always in fact been living in. As the community of courage seekers grows we shake off the shackles of enslavement to mass media, mass production, and the living apocalypse. We trade our comfort for courage, and we trade our jail cell for an abundant world of joy, beauty, tragedy, and ultimately redemption and entrance into heaven on earth.