end of hope

The End of Hope (Part 6)

The End of Hope (part 6)

We must remember that in the very end of the matter we do not get to “pick” our particular expression of beauty. We are subject to era and experience, and frankly the availability of our class. What tools are available depend on when and where.

If you are born to a working class midwest family your options are different. Even with a father who poked around with music as a teen, there may not be any encouragement or development of artistic skill or talent. One is left to what is innate.

Something begins to emerge. It could be the paintbrush, the pencil, pop radio, fashion. #ChooseYourWeapon

Some expression begins to make sense to a young man or woman. It just does. Which one emerges we clearly do not pick, we discover. There is already an appetite.

Without familial support a young person in such a place has only the deep sense of longing to connect with. There is no shaping of a mentor, or fluency of the medium. It is simply gut-level determination to translate pain somehow through a medium.

But that is enough. It is enough grit to get through the many layers of self confidence issues and start-up posturing. The desire and love for that medium simply trumps all fears, and usually at an age when we are to dumb to fear anyway.

We jump into the thing because it almost feels like we have to. The escape we get out of that release is almost intoxicating. It strongly pulls us back in, time and time again. Those truly “in” forget to think about anything else.

There is no marketing plan. There is no long-range thoughts at all. It is simply the present freedom in doing the thing we love, especially in the late teens, early 20’s.

If not thought of as a burden of discipline, art can be a drug.

In the good sense. Creating art does give us a release. It is satisfying. It does feel good. It is intended to. We are actually to love and enjoy it before anyone else. We are actually to like the art and music we create. Really!

That’s ultimately the point: to enjoy the creative process yes but more so to create the thing (sound, color, gadget, etc.) we are envisioning. We see or hear something that embodies the art form for us. We are completely captivated by it. We immerse ourselves in it. We listen or watch it over and over. We are transformed by its imagery and sound. We run the risk at first of imitation when we start. Our master’s work is so fundamental to us. But that’s where it must start.

Eventually we begin to find our voice, somewhere in the midst of our context, our inner passion and drive, and what is at our disposal to use. We are compelled to write. We start and have no idea what is coming out, but “it” is coming out!

Something is flowing out of us, something beautiful and compelling. We can not be “fans” at first because it is so new. We can gaze at it like looking at a newborn, but we can’t “know” it, not yet. It’s not completely ours after all. It has a Father!

The End of Hope (Part 3)

The End of Hope (Part 3)

Is there a reward for hope? Is there a practical reason to continue hoping? Is success in some form or another a part of cultivating hope within us? In other words, do we believe that what we seek is better than where we are at?

Some will try to philosophically contend that hope somehow is an end in itself, that it is sort of a state of mind or attitude. While not all wrong, there does seem to necessarily be more for the conditions of what we call hope to blossom. In other words there is an object to our hope. And somewhere innate in that object is not just its creation (or bringing forth into reality), but also its blossoming (what may in our time be connected to “selling”). In other words, success.

Do we pursue some creative endeavor only in the prospects of its possible success? Or is there something innate to the calling that is deeply part of us regardless of success? Yes. But somehow our job is to get the thing inside us out. Some at this point will bring out exceptions of course. People who did what they were called to do but faced only failure. Some may mention Jeremiah the prophet - called to failure. Perhaps. But then how do we know his name today?

We think for a prophet success is people listening to the words spoken and changing. Not so. Success for the prophet is getting his word out. Period. Did Jeremiah do a good job in getting the word out from his heart to the public? Yes.

That’s what we don’t realize. How did Jeremiah get the attention of the royal courts? How did his word make such a big impact so as to be considered a threat to the royal way of life? He must have done something to get the popular vote. Or did he? Even they didn’t like what he was saying. In that sense, he was universally annoying. But he didn’t stop. And people didn’t stop hearing his words from God. He did exactly what he needed to do. Isn‘t that the kind of success we mean?

Success isn’t albums sold or price per painting, but it may include that. We really get to determine what success looks like for us. We get to tell our creative endeavors what the goals are. No one else can tell us what the goals are.

Obviously viability will likely be one. We are not free to determine what viability means (in other words, it comes down to a certain number of sales, etc.). But we are free to determine the values and vision of our particular company.

We have the creative freedom to dream it up, to fight it out, to discover what it looks like for us. That is the beauty of it all. Too often we get hamstrung on the initial viability needs, to the point where that becomes the only goal.

The goal is the what. We define the “what’ whereby we judge ourselves successful or not. What are your goals? You decide them. You must figure out what those really are. What is it you want to do? Only you can decide that question. 

The End of Hope (Part 2)

The End of Hope (Part 2)

Hope refuses to be boxed in. Hope stretches what we conceive of as reality. Though many learn to accept limitations (and there is definite merit to such), hope pushes at those boundaries, redefines them, renegotiates their finitude.

The reality is that humans settle. We have been “settling” America for the past two hundred and almost 40-some years. Of course we still pioneer but mostly in engineering better ways to enjoy comfort or to increase our security.

Settling puts walls up, fences up, security gates, locks, etc. It solidifies the fortress so the inhabitants are “safe.” The problem we never suspected, perhaps, is that safe is not so great. Safe has a whole new set of problems it comes with.

The more “secure” things are, the less in many ways people appreciate or understand that security. There are millions of benefits, of course (like the freedom to write in this journal), but we must be honest about the challenges of being safe.

Also dangerous, of course, is the weight of continually pushing. It is not our “job” to constantly push at boundaries. It is our “job” to BE. As we truly grow in grace the knowledge of BEing, our capacity naturally expands.

This mission of sledgehamming self-induced walls is not something outside us, it is not a duty we grudgingly commit to. Though certainly there are aspects of it that require sacrifice and discipline, those things result from something inside, namely hope.

Getting to hope is really the work we are about. It is largely an inner work. This inner work itself pushes and pulls us beyond the walls of safety, walls we emotionally put up to ensure our “happiness,” the other great enemy of the Spirit. Hope knows the absolute silliness of being happy, or striving for happiness. Hope knows happiness is an elusive mistress, ultimately illusion. Happiness by definition is a by-product, a result of temporarily satisfying some need now.

Hope takes the longview of happiness. It is not the immediate gratification of some need. Hope by nature is deferred gratification, or intentionally postponed gratification of some need, whether by choice or even at times by circumstance.

Hope creates a set of priorities that do not reflect our immediate wants. Hope differentiates between what is needed and what we are simply used to. Hope challenges us to boldly disappoint those expecting from us.

Hope welcomes sacrifice in the near term. It understands the process for which goals are achieved. It knows there are no shortcuts, but that life gives enough rewards along the way to sustain us. It is not about being a martyr, it is about waiting.

Hope is waiting with patience for the rest of life to catch up with our inner vision. In other words, we see something, we have a vision, we know the potential of something, but we are alone in that at first. We do not know the outcome, yet.

The End of Hope (Part 1)

The End of Hope (Part 1)

Sometimes life’s very repetitive almost circular nature can be overwhelmingly consistent. A familiarity sets in that breeds something worse than monotony, boredom. We get an arrogance that assumes all we have is all there is. This possibly innocent reflection is the beginning of a diseased sort of despair that ultimately has no cure. It is the stuck-ness of someone on the verge of suicide. It is the lack of sight (or insight) literally. There is no horizon, let alone beyond the horizon.

This again is why art is so important. It reminds us of the horizon, that there is something bigger than merely our tiny slice of the pie. It is pulls us into a connectedness with this greater reality. There is more. That there is more is sufficient to end crippling despair. Having any sorts of ideas about what that more is can be unnecessary initially. Just make a crack in the wall of finitude certainty and you have given a precious gift. There is more!

Without art kicking at the walls that block our sight, we have only political realities, only economics. Everything becomes extremely cause and effect, a fated locked-in system where the rich get there’s and the rest are left only to suffer. What is left is a sort of faceless rage underneath an overwhelming sea of passivity and despair. “This is all there is,” the sentiment though void of any contentment. The focus is exclusively on “ALL,” assuming an exhaustive scope of reality.

This is the arrogance of despair. It gives a sense of certainty that no human is meant to endure. There are no gaps. No holes. No theory. Just reality. Painful, heart-breaking, reality. This is it. Anything else is illusion from stark reality. While this on one hand can seem heroically honest, it fundamentally lacks any sort of humility. It claims full access to all of reality, an exclusive to the bottom layers of truth. Underneath it all, well, there is nothing. How martyr-ish! How arrogant.

Yet we feel the walls closing in often. When we try to breath, when we try to live outside of Murphy’s Law we can quickly sense the vertigo of trying to make it. It feels like we are on our own. The freedom we experienced suddenly turns on us. It is replaced with a rapid sort of discontent, or a sudden realization that we can not sustain this level of beauty and freedom. We are frightened back into our corner. We rehearse the lines, “I should have just stayed where I was.”

“What was I thinking?” Sort of a panicked hysteria settles in. “What are we going to do? How are we going to do this?” We stop trusting the journey, we stop trusting the sense of freedom, we stop believing that we are onto something.

Fear is a powerful thing. Not only does it keep people locked into place for many miserable years, it makes people long to be back who have left. It frightens those who have escaped to the point of reinterpreting the past to look much better.