The Lure of "Less Than"



I was having coffee recently with a close friend, whom we'll call Dee. The slump of her shoulders and the dust on her sparkle told me it was a down day before we were even seated at our table. Why, she wanted to know, did other people's status-seeking habits and recent purchases bother her so much?

If she was living her own values (minimalism, giving back, making time for art and other creative endeavors, frugality), then why did a friend rubbing in her most recent pricey purchases get to Dee? Why did it matter that family members who were focused on having more/buying constantly/living large were doing their thing?

On Your Creative Journey

On our journey through life, we're all following a certain path. Some of us veer off into the bushes and undergrowth, intent on going our own way. Some of us meander on and off the path that's set before us, chasing butterflies or becoming distracted by the scenery. Some of us grow tired and begin wondering if maybe this place isn't just fine to settle down and enjoy life. 

Why do we do this? Because sometimes the path is grueling. Sometimes you can't take another blister, another rainstorm, another night spent damp and depressed in your sleeping bag in a soggy tent. At times, you wonder what this whole journey is all about: why are you doing this to yourself? 

And then you see a vista view and remember. Or you learn that your creative work has touched someone's life . You snap back to attention, plunging back up the mountain. You are renewed and reinvigorated. 

You understand that living your creative dream--in whatever form that takes--is work, hard work, but you are willing to stay the course because it brings you meaning. When you were created, it was with God's fingerprints all over you. Made in His image, you inherited His creative talents. And you've decided to use those to their full potential, come hell or high water. 

The Lure of Less Than

Still, the lure of "less than," beckons. It would certainly be easier to stream Netflix tonight after a hard day's work than break out the paints. Simpler to lose yourself in a novel rather than work on your own. Wouldn't it feel good, a little voice whispers, to treat yourself to a spa day rather than continue saving for that far-off creative workshop or coaching session? 

I know all about the lure of less than. I lived it for two years, writing copy for a corporation. I was intent on giving up my dream of writing novels and going after "the good life." After all, weren't trips and extra grocery money and a housekeeper and little splurges here and there worth the exchange? 

For me it turned out the answer was no. I guess I'd rather be a big, fat creative failure than a soul-sucked-dry-corporate-success. 

If you feel similarly, then use this time--the time when you're lured to "be normal," and "do things like everyone else" as an alarm system. 

  • What isn't working in your creative journey right now? 
  • Do you need rest
  • Have you lost passion for your project? If so, why do you think that is?
  • Do you need more connection with other creatives and maybe less with people who have different values than you do? 
  • Do you need to refill your creative well
  • Are you still finding joy in your creative work? If not, why not? 

You may know the answer to some of these questions right away. Others may take more digging. Go for a long walk and ponder the more slippery ones, or journal about them. 

Be Brave

Being brave on your creative journey isn't always easy. In fact, very often it's difficult. When you think back over your life though, when are the times you've grown the most--when things were easy and all was smooth sailing? Or when things got dicey and you had to grow and adapt and learn? 

Don't give up on the dreams that Spirit has put inside of you simply because other, easier things lure you away. This is your path. You were meant for it. And Spirit has more than enough power and strength to guide you, lead you, and hold you up when you're feeling weak. 

What do you think? Are you in a place where less than feels like an intoxicating draw? If not, what advice would you offer to other creatives in that place of struggle? 

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