Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Creative Warrior

I love paradox, don't you? The Peaceful Warrior books- whether you like them or not, you love the title. How can one be peaceful and a warrior? They seem opposed, at odds with each other. A Warrior is devoted to destruction, isn't he? How can he be peaceful? Wouldn't that lessen his effectiveness?

The answer is in the definition, of course. The average person may think of a warrior as simply a man of war. By that, I mean his only profession or skill lies in defeating other human beings. But this is not always so. Certainly, conflict is a part of the Warriors' daily life. But life and death struggles aren't the norm for most of us. The real object of those that train for war is preparation- to be ready. This means to be able to handle extreme violence, or extreme kindness- it is really all the same, just what you are doing at the moment. If you think about it, this is very zen...but, you see it all the time. It is not extraordinary to find foes being compassionate to enemies or the innocent ones caught up in the 'collateral damage'.

Hence, my title- the creative person, the one who struggles with his art or his expression of his creativity. This can be physical, as well- Bruce Lee thought of himself as expressing himself through his art. He saw himself as a creative human being- physical movement was his field of endeavor, and he sought for the truth of it. Sound familiar? Truth is a great part of art, really. And I believe we still remember and honor those that remain true to the truth in their art, whatever it may be.

A Warrior is true to himself. He knows himself as an artist knows his colors. He is on a constant quest for self-improvement, to be a little bit better than yesterday. It isn't easy.

If people knew how hard I have had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem wonderful at all.

So I strive to be creative. To be a Warrior, we must be artists of life. I noticed that I have a tendency to capitalize Warrior even though it shouldn't be- but, I think of it as a title, a noble calling. A full time job, the most important of jobs, for it dictates how you relate to everyone and everything in your life.

Again, you don't need to be a person familiar with tools of violence or methods of combat that do violence to others to be a warrior. To me, the warrior is also one that is ready to do battle with the forces of mediocrity and indifference. While others avoid responsibility and practice denial, we face our tasks as surely as a warrior would face his enemy. In truth, our real enemy is ourselves- our desire to follow the herd, to seek for immediate pleasures at the expense of our future. In short, the quality of life! Some see this as fame, fortune, material things. We see it as the things that cannot be measured by a bank statement, or recognized by any but others like us. The reward is a full life, the ability to perceive the value and beauty in things that others miss because they have been taught that the secrets to happiness can be owned. In truth, what do they have that can compare with a sunrise? Wouldn't it be better to have the ability to see beauty in nature, in the changing of the seasons, in other people's faces and life stories, and savor the wonders that are there for free, if only we could perceive them?

So. I fight my laziness, me desire to give up, to be part of the herd, to live my life according to Madison Avenue. To seek not for wisdom, but for bits of junk that will give me satisfaction..for the moment. In that battle, you may find peace. I like to think that the effort itself rewards me with a certain serenity.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Walking The Path

I recently came across something that brought me great joy. Imagine someone drudging through the burdens of life- job, marriage, husband's failed business, losing a great house and moving into a mobile home. Can you foresee the dreariness, the thoughts of failure, the depression? The feelings of giving up, no longer caring or trying? Well, this person didn't give up.

What impressed me the most is that she waited patiently for items, made it fun. Quite a few of the things she didn't have, she made- and that was fun, too. In short, she took a life that could be full of negativity, recriminations, and bitterness. Instead, she made something she always wanted. The fact that it is small adds to it, instead of diminishing it. There is a message here for many a so-called wise person.

Well, it makes me want to step back and look at my life a bit differently. How can I apply the same methods? How can I shape my daily life so that I can feel fulfilled even though the day involves so much that takes from me, and leaves me tired and feeling like a beast of burden rather than a creative, live human being?

I don't know. But when I see things like this, I know I have to try! If I may quote Hagakure again,

To say that to die without reaching ones' aims is to die a dog's death is the way of frivolous sophisticates.

Funny how this could apply today as well. Our 'frivolous sophisticates' would immediately criticize, and have nothing positive to offer. All they know is that they have the secrets..and, they aren't telling!

The Way is in the trying. Brace ourselves, move forward! One foot in front of the other, as my father always said when we took our long, rambling walks. He would not be considered a great or intelligent man by those that recon these things. But he was wise. He would have loved this article, and found a project for him to do, to lift him up, to give him hope. He never quit, until he became too ill to continue.

What a spirit! I always feel like a mere shadow compared to these amazing people. May I never give in!

keep on keeping on

"courage doesn't always roar. sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, i'll try again tomorrow."

{mary anne radmacher}