A few days ago, I posted a quote by Joseph Campbell, about a quote by Nietzsche. The concept of the Cosmic Dancer fascinated me, when I first read it. As an artist, I identified the feelings I have had about my own art, and how it fits in the grand scheme of things. Particularly, the difficulties in these times,in finding a balance between creating and sustaining ourselves.
In order to create, one must isolate ones self in a state of consciousness that allows creation to take place. When I am in create mode, my senses are in an elevated state, painfully aware of every shadow, line, and form, inner landscapes all around.
I find myself going deep within, during the process of painting I fall into a dreamlike state. In order to manifest our perceptions and get them out on the canvas we must be in touch with the unconscious, letting it flow through us.
But then, distracted by the need to make money by selling our art, exposing ourselves to new things which can “fill the well”, and present the world with our offerings, our perceptions, in an attempt to, as Campbell puts it, bring life back to the wasteland where people live inauthentically”.
My experience, when feeling overwhelmed, creates an opportunity for inner and outer worlds to collide. For example, I am in create mode, the phone rings, and somebody wants money for something. Or maybe I am standing on a crowded bus on my way to buy art supplies, and must process all sorts of foreign energies swirling around me. It can be overwhelming.
It is not these actual tasks that are difficult, it is making the transition, between the inner and outer worlds, time and time again, that invokes the challenge.
Being an artist sometimes feels to me, like being an onion without its outer skin. Things only have the capacity to deeply impresses or wound me, when I allow it. Yet, in venturing out,in this over sensitized state, I find myself easily overstimulated by my external environment. It can be exhausting.
Unable to turn ourselves on and off on a whim, we must somehow stay in tune with the natural flow, so that it may flow through us, in order to create.
Wouldn’t it be easier to stay on one side of the abyss or the other? Lets not, and say we did, the old expression goes, why not just skip it?
Unless something becomes a catalyst to take the plunge, most will find it much easier to live the shadow life, doing something secondary to their art, in a related field. No need to face and overcome fears that just, frankly, seem too difficult to surmount.
This refusal of the call, says Campbell, creates a kind of “drying up, a sense of life lost.”
The shadow life allows us to stay close to what we secretly love, but without having to take the risks, and by the same token, without the payoffs.
To become a master, we must hone our skills and abilities. While the world swirls around us, we strive to find the inner peace, attempting to quell our anxiety. The circle requires completion, so we must hop the great abyss, back to ourselves, then across the abyss again, in order for our journey to be done.
We strive towards honorable pursuits. Why then, not live out our dreams, allowing our deep seated purpose to take the forefront? What do we really have to lose? To live authentically, it must be done. Such is the challenge of the Cosmic Dancer.