Food for Thought

My mom handed me Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art the other day. Apparently, she wanted to give it to me for Christmas, but didn’t want to seem pushy. So she read it, and decided that I needed to read it, too.

I read over 100 pages in about an hour on Monday, during a tutoring session that didn’t happen (the student didn’t show up). Time well spent.

This book is just thrilling, really.

Here’s an excerpt that I read today:

Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.

Do it or don’t do it.

It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.

You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.

I so completely agree with this. In fact, when I wrote my Lenten Devotion for the church pamphlet this year, I wrote specifically about creative Gifts, and where they really come from:

For Friday, March 16
Psalm 92 is the scripture I chose. The first 4 verses speak of giving thanks, specifically through music in verse 3.

I took classical piano lessons from the summer before first grade all the way through my second year of college. Mom always instilled in me and my brothers the importance of rejoicing in God’s Gifts by using those gifts often, and thankfully St. Thomas was (and is!) a welcoming church for young musicians. I remember playing the prelude and postlude on multiple occasions at the Blue Church on Bob Wallace Avenue as well as on Bailey Cove, and how incredible it made me feel each time to be given that privilege. A blessing, truly.

Now that I’m an adult, when I see kids up at the front of the church singing for us or playing the flute or piano or guitar, I now better understand the spiritual gifts that are being given back to God with those gestures. It is important to celebrate one’s gifts and talents by returning them to the Giver through rejoicing. I hope to teach my children the same — that talents should be celebrated and shared — for it is in giving that we receive, as St. Francis of Assisi said. I think God must have had that very principle in mind, or music wouldn’t be such an important part of our worship.

Bach gave us God’s Word.
Mozart gave us God’s Laughter.
Beethoven gave us God’s Fire.
God gave us Music that we might pray without words.
–From a German Opera House

I was raised by an artist mother and a scientist father, both intensely creative in different ways. Creativity has always been encouraged — no, required — in my family. And thankfully I married someone who is tremendously supportive of me as well, even if he does tease me sometimes because I can be so enslaved by my need to make things.

Do it or don’t do it.

I’m going to do it. You?