the journey

The Sun will rise and set regardless. What we choose to do with the light while it’s here is up to us. Journey wisely.
— Alexandra Elle

Enjoy the journey.  We have heard it over and over again.  We have tried to.  Still, we struggle to.

The point of enjoying the journey isn’t to be more present or stop and smell the roses.  It is because the point of the journey is who you become within it.  The destination is only the result of the person who journeyed.  Without the journey, there is no arrival anywhere.  That is why we must enjoy it.  It is all there actually is.

There is no magic moment you will arrive at in your career when you will say, “There.  I am satisfied.”  An artist is never satisfied because artistry lives in curiosity and curiosity always has one more rock to turn over.  Curiosity never ceases its amazement and interest in life and so it is never done.  You are never done.  You will never arrive.  Even as you stand holding your freshly won Oscar you will wonder what the next project or opportunity might be.  There is no there, there.

So if we are going to dedicate our efforts and focus to enjoying the process of creation then we have to get into alignment with creation.  Nature is our wisest teacher.  Mother earth knows what she is doing.  She does a lot.  She never stops creating, and she has not one worry line about it.

All matter evolves in stages.  Yoga says all matter goes from unmanifest to manifest.  From impotent to potent.  From the unseen to the seeable.  How this happens is the great mystery of the Universe.  We can think, act or feel things into being.  We are creative source energy.

Think of an idea.  Where does it come from?  You are sitting on a train or watching television and suddenly something just drops in.  David Lynch says we “catch ideas like fish.”  So it appears from the unmanifest and then we either begin to grow it or not.  There are ideas we plant and others we let go.  The ones we release go back into the cosmology waiting for a better suitor.  Those we hold we now get to honor and get into relationship with.  That is our job.  We are the gardeners of art.

Perhaps you take an idea and plant it.  You start to take a little action.  Make a few calls or sign up for a class or begin writing a first draft.  Just like a seed planted in the earth it takes time for it to mature and grow.  It has its own stages and as it grows and ripens, so do you, that is the beauty of it all.

Like any romantic relationship you enter into a love affair with your idea.  It brings you bliss and makes you excited to get out of bed everyday, and it triggers the hell out of you and makes you want to kick, scream and leave.  And just like a new romantic love, you don't expect to know everything about the seed right away.  You learn from it.  You ask it questions.  You spend time with it.  You nurture it.  That is how something has space to grow.

The yoga sutras which can be thought of as one of the original sources of psychology, tells us that growth and transformation happens in stages and if we have knowledge of those stages we can be more at peace with them as we endure or enjoy them.

The first stage is called Vitarka. Vitarka is how any new idea or process or change can feel.  Hard at first.  Clunky.  Gross, difficult, annoying and inauthentic.  Think of your first draft of your first script.  Think of your first audition or acting class.  Think of a musician picking up a guitar for the first time.  At first he doesn’t even know how to hold the damn thing let alone play it.  When he tries to press his fingers down on the frets it hurts and he can’t yet press down hard enough to make sound.  It feels so awkward and like it will never make sense.  This is the first stage.  The stage where we plant the seed and then we no longer see it or feel connected to the big beautiful plant it might one day become.

The next phase (if you stick with it) is Vichara. Basically, it starts to feel a little easier.  Maybe your fingers are now a little thicker and more calloused from pressing down on the frets.  Maybe you can strum a little.  Maybe the guitar doesn’t feel as heavy on your leg.  Maybe you add a great scene to your script.  Maybe you have an authentic moment in your scene.  It feels painfully slow, but it is changing.

Next, (if you stick with it) is Ananda.  Basically, it starts to feel fun!  You may look more forward to doing it.  You actually want to practice your guitar because you can string together a few chords now and it is just beginning to sound like music!  You felt really connected to your scene partner that time and you are excited for next weeks class to try a new scene.  You wake up with a new idea on how to improve a scene in your script and are excited to get it down on paper.  You have just enough communion with it now that the relationship is feeling easier and more joyful.

Next, (if you stick with it) is Asmita Rupa.  It becomes second nature.  You are playing songs now.  You are writing and rewriting with ease.  It is no longer a fluke to have an authentic connection on stage or in your scene, you are beginning to understand your instrument enough to draw it up and out of yourself on cue.  You don’t have to think or try so hard.  It is now part of you.  This is where your romantic relationship feels like you have an unspoken language and there is comfort and ease.  It has become an extension of you.  

And finally, (if you stick with it) Samprajnatah.  You are a master.  Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to become a master.  Here you have hit your mark.  It is like there is no separation between you and it.  The flower is fully bloomed.  You are playing concerts or teaching guitar to others.  You are selling screenplays for television.  You are winning acting awards and doing great art you love eight shows a week.  You are a pro.  You are the authority of your craft because you are a master of it.

Now, how long does each stage take?  However long it takes.  The more you practice, the more you devote, certainly the faster, yet your talent and art can only expand to the level of expansion of your own awareness and personal growth.  Your own maturation is required as the vehicle for your talents to mature.  You are not only the gardener, but also the garden.  It grows as big as you do.

How can you mature?  How can you move through and into mastery?  You reach your own enlightenment when you can genuinely embrace each stage of your transformation with the same energy and enthusiasm.  When you can enjoy and champion your clunky difficult stages with the same fervor as you accept your mastery, then you become a container big enough to have it.  There is nothing holding back your growth beyond your judgement an resistance to its stages.

So…enjoy the journey.  All of it. Without each stage there is no show.  Who you become as you learn to love and devote to the fullness of the creative process is the kind of artist who has access to every story, every canvas and all of what life has to offer.  Commit and begin, from where you are, and celebrate with joy how awkward it feels and watch and see how great a ride you find yourself on.

You were given life; it is your duty -and also your entitlement as a human being- to find something beautiful within it.
— Elizabeth Gilbert
Om WorkJen Rudolph