I’ve written about self-improvement a lot, and have done a lot of it. I’m at a point in my self-improvement journey where the devil’s in the details, as they say. It’s the little things that are still thorns in my side, and the daily habits that require devotion.
I have stories I want to tell, and books I want to write. Self-improvement is a great thing, but to what end? My intention is to use it to create art, write books, and play music.
Creativity is a daily thing. It’s easy to forget about it as we get caught up in earning money. Creativity is ultimately a spiritual path.
Getting Better, Man is a blog about my life and my thoughts (about aforementioned life), and it’s also about self-improvement. I see life and self-improvement as concurrent journeys that I’m on, and I assume others are on, too. Sometimes it’s good to clarify this kind of thing.
I often think about virtue, and what it means to be virtuous. Being virtuous feels good and fulfilling to me, but like food, everyone has different tastes (and digestive systems). You can’t force virtue down people’s throats.
For me, the backbone of virtue is integrity, and integrity is composed of principles. I choose to define the principles I live by, some of which go along with others, but these days I find myself walking my own path more and more. I’m devoted and loyal to who I truly am.
For a long while, I’ve been lost and confused about the seemingly opposite and nigh irreconcilable pull of both artless commerce and artful consciousness.
The mastery of life–which seems for all intents and purposes to be “making a living”–and the mastery of art looked like paths that diverged at the crossroads. I think a part of me went one way, and another part went the other. At present, I’m pleasantly surprised that my paths have somehow met.
In my quest to be Captain & Commander, I’m often torn between wanting to get to the destination, and being patient on–and sometimes even enjoying–the journey. Oftentimes, there are other people involved (hence commerce), yet the Muse has a schedule of her own.
I’m currently working on a project that defies and escapes my ability to articulate the personal and creative challenges I’ve had to face in the doing of it, but that could be said of my whole career.
Art–this thing I call my vocation, which has chosen me as much as I’ve chosen it, which has me walking the path of mastery–can be a harsh mistress. She takes as much as she gives.
Every day is an act of devotion, as I sacrifice myself at the altar of the Muse. Art has become, and probably has always been, my religion. My soul is pregnant with creative possibilities.
Art doesn’t necessarily make me a better man, but it does make me want to be a better man.
image credit: by Eric Hunt licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Nothing worthwhile is done half-heartedly. When you put all of yourself into something, the rewards for success are great, but so are the pains of failure. Yet, to not put your whole self into something you care about, is meaningless and mediocre.
To walk the path of greatness is to answer the call of mastery. That empty and gnawing feeling can only be fulfilled by a devotion to something greater.
Life is the great master and teacher.
Self-improvement is the path, and at the end of the path is self-mastery, but it is just out of reach, so that we’ll always keep going forward.
There comes a time when a boy must become a man. Then he chooses to become a professional. Then he realizes that something has always tugged at his heart, and he may choose to walk the path of mastery–or the path may choose him.
Like magic, his road then stretches infinitely before him, and his world expands into the far reaches of the universe. All the things that used to burden and weigh him down fall away–he keeps his own counsel, carries his own light–and becomes a beacon for those that follow.
image credit: Pixabay