Saturday, February 21, 2009

Becoming a hollow reed...

Here's a fantastic poem from Hafez wherein he speaks of the difference between the mature artist and the immature one:


The Vintage Man

Between a good artist 
And a great one


The novice 
Will often lay down his tool 
Or brush

Then pick up an invisible club 
On the mind’s table

And helplessly smash the easels and

Whereas the vintage man 
No longer hurts himself or anyone

And keeps on 


-- Hafiz, (translated by Daniel Ladinsky)

As alluded to in the above poem, there is much to say about the way artists often hurt themselves in their creative path.  I am personally of the opinion that 90% of this anguish and self-sabotage is unrelated to our actual work- it is not the fire that burns us, it is the fear of the fire.

It's become clear to me that work should always be joyous.  Even when it is hard and painful and we have to sacrifice for it, there should always be an element of joy present.  It seems very difficult to realize our potential, otherwise, for how can you pour your into the very thing you resist? 

My goal is to create in a sustainable, authentic manner.  Why let success or failure, or fear of either stand in my way?

I recently heard a great TED talk by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert that explored these ideas and more.  I encourage you to listen to it if you get a chance. 

And after you watch that talk, perhaps you will have time to read another poem that speaks to the essence of what art is, this one by the extraordinary Jorge Luis Borges:

The Art of Poetry 

To gaze at a river made of time and water 

and remember Time is another river. 

To know we stray like a river 

and our faces vanish like water. 


To feel that waking is another dream 

that dreams of not dreaming and that the death 

we fear in our bones is the death 

that every night we call a dream. 


To see in every day and year a symbol 

of all the days of man and his years, 

and convert the outrage of the years 

into a music, a sound, and a symbol. 


To see in death a dream, in the sunset 

a golden sadness such is poetry, 

humble and immortal, poetry, 

returning, like dawn and the sunset. 


Sometimes at evening there's a face 

that sees us from the deeps of a mirror. 

Art must be that sort of mirror, 

disclosing to each of us his face. 


They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders, 

wept with love on seeing Ithaca, 

humble and green. Art is that Ithaca, 

a green eternity, not wonders. 


Art is endless like a river flowing,

passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same 

inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same 

and yet another, like the river flowing. 

-Jorge Luis Borges 

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