Dignity of the Artist

The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. In this long vigil he often has to vary his methods of stimulation; but in this long vigil he is also himself striving against a continual tendency to sleep.” ~ Marc Chagall

There is a tremendously destructive force at work in the world and it thrives in the minds and hearts of those who have fallen asleep in relation to their higher purpose. This force has many goals. Central among them is the nullification of the expression of joy in relation to living.

You’ve no doubt seen this force at work in those around you, where the life is gradually sucked out of them. Wonderment turns to expectation, joy gives way to bitterness and appreciation yields to disdain whenever this force is given residence in the heart by a weak or untrained mind. It is a sad thing to watch, especially when it happens to those you love, but happen it does.

So what can be done?

You cannot force others to see the light of reason, but you can provide a steady stream of inspiration that will either draw them closer to a breakthrough in their understanding or repel them if they are being stubborn. Either way you’ve done your part and to try to do any more is a fool’s errand. Doing your part is the best that you can do.

If you take it a step too far (doing your part while trying to do theirs as well), your efforts will invariably come to naught. You cannot live for someone else. You cannot make them live for themselves. You can educate, assist, motivate and galvanize, but at the end of the day they must assume responsibility for the choices that are theirs to make.

Contrary to popular opinion, there is no need to struggle with this force in any of its manifestations. Men of dignity and unbending principle do not contend with this force as it seeks to gain sway in their hearts or in those of others. They realize that living, truly living, unfolds by means of a radiant approach in all things. Moreover, they understand that radiant living is only possible where wonderment is alive and well in both heart and mind.

Do you view your world with wonder each and every day? If not, you’ve probably noticed that the lights have already begun to dim in your experience. Be deliberate about taking a radiant stance in relation to your work, your family, your friends. Rather than demand newness, joy and fulfillment from your world, look to radiate those qualities into it, regardless of how you might feel about them at the moment.

Don’t be fooled by the dissatisfied and bitter voices of those who have turned their backs on radiant living. Misery seeks company because it must feed like a vampire to stay alive. Hear them out, but give no quarter. You needn’t join in simply because you were asked. You have the opportunity to be an artist in living, filled with joy, dignity and a clear sense of purpose.

The question is, will you seize it?

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12 Responses to Dignity of the Artist

  1. Joshua says:

    I will seize this opportunity.
    Thanks for the wonderment, and amazement of your perfectly timed words.

  2. Rebecca Ledet says:

    When you look to suck the joy out of anything, it tends to be sucked out of yourself. What’s left is cynicism, sarcasm and defeatism. When you look to bring joy to others, you can’t help but see the wonder of life, because it reveals itself in delightful and unexpected ways.

  3. Flow says:

    Great post. Thanks!

  4. Kimberly says:

    You can read about it, listen to it and witness it but it will never be yours unless you live it! Good thoughts-thank you.

  5. Colin says:

    It is sometimes a tough pill to swallow when you realize that you can’t make someone else see the joy and wonderment that is very much still in the world. While misery does seek company, it also despises joy. The reason that a radiant approach to life works to cancel the destructive forces of misery and cynicism is because the actors that are expressing these qualities will either have to shape up or ship out when confronted with a radiant joy that will not be muffled. When you struggle with misery, you only become miserable yourself, because you are just lowering yourself to its level. Never give up on your principles, especially if it seems like it would quickly solve an immediate problem to do so. Down that road lies only shame.

  6. David R says:

    Often the depressed and bitter condition includes a broadcast that more or less dares others to intervene and fix the situation. It can be tempting ot the well-maning person to become drawn into this tractor beam of self-pity and resentment. But the compulsion to save another from him or herself must be modified with wisdom. Is there a genuine, openhearted cry for assistance or is this a cynical trick designed to draw others into the putrid vortex of decay and futility? If the person is truly ready to release any links to that vortex, it may be possible to help. If not, then the kindest thing can simply be to let the person thrash and complain until perhaps there may be a willingness to give up, look up and let go!

  7. Kai Newell says:

    The practical points you’ve outlined in this post surely offer every single person the opportunity to reveal the unique artist they are. How exciting!!

  8. S.B. says:

    Love the Marc Chagall quotation! When I was in art school, his work and writing actually helped me to understand more the ‘mysterious’ process of how an artist is able to bring a genuine and inspiring uniqueness through themselves into an art form. It is so true that works of art on earth are not limited to “the arts” per se, and the magic of creation has endless possibilities to manifest each day, as long as there is an artist standing by to steward the process!

  9. You have answered something I have been considering of late. Yes your words are very timely. Talk about wonder it is wonderful to realize we don’t have to struggle with the destructive force that brings misery ,cynicism, etc. What a joy just to realize this. Your words bring great blessings. It is such a joy and wonder to be so inspired to provide a radiant expression into my world.

  10. Carol says:

    Gregg, I’ve been a follower of your blog for some time now. It’s such a blessing to have a sound point to refer to. You always offer a clear perspective that just makes sense! I can relate to the situation you describe here where I’ve had you and others try to assist me in the “stuck” places. I didn’t always see what you were pointing to at the time. Now I find I’m in a similar situation with those in my field at home and those I’m responsible to manage at work. We’re here to assist each other to live a joyous and creative life. At the recent passing of our friend, I’ve thought so much about how he never gave himself a way out even though he had some tough physical limitations. You described him as a warrior in a recent post and he certainly was a brilliant and radiant one. He truly lived in every sense of the word and his impact was far-reaching. I think we all long for that kind of influence.

    • Gregg Hake says:

      Good to hear, Carol, and I’m delighted to hear you’ve enjoyed my posts. I’m thankful to have this medium for helping others. Being a person of unbending principle can be lonely and uncomfortable at times, but you have it in you!

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