“We live in fear of failure, convinced that failure will prove us to be frauds.”
For the past month, I had been dwelling on the idea of failure and what it is and what it isn't. Is it a specific action? Is it a feeling? It is a downfall? And why do we fear failure? What’s so bad about it? While reading “The Artisan Soul,” the answer was revealed. The book reads, “We live in fear of failure, convinced that failure will prove us to be frauds.” Failure is a feeling that manifests itself when we think it will call us out, and because of this, we withhold ourselves from achieving our full potential. And that is why McManus, author of the book, says, “The creative act is inherently an act of courage.” We have to create in spite of fear and in spite of the possibility of failure. But when it all comes down to it, failure is just a feeling, and we have the power to overcome it.
“The soul is that material in us that distinguishes us from animals and reflects the divine in us.”
During my time at college, I took an art class where we argued the difference between humans and animals. Some said humans are no different from animals because we are all mammals. Others said it’s our cognitive thinking that differentiates us from animals. But McManus says it’s the soul in us that makes all the difference. And if it’s the soul in us that makes all the difference, then we must have a greater purpose here on earth. A person of faith automatically knows the answer to this "greater purpose": to be reflections of Christ and to glorify His name. But what does that mean? To be a reflection of Christ means to exemplify His being, and if He is a creator, then we are creatives. And to glorify His name means to create everything for Him. So when it comes down to it, it is our soul that differentiates us from animals, and it is our soul that allows us to enter into the divinity of creativity.
“Religion is our response to God from the perspective of coercion and compliance… worship is not something we are called to so that God can reinforce his status. It is his way of calling us nearer.”
Throughout my years in the church, my pastor always said, “We believe in relationship, not religion.” A healthy relationship is one of choice, and if I was choosing God, it made it that much more special. But I never stopped to think about what the opposite side of the coin was. That was until McManus spelled it out: “Religion is our response to God from the perspective of coercion and compliance.” It becomes a system of checks and balances –– a system of rights and wrongs. This realization illuminates the greatness of choice and shows why relationship over religion is that much sweeter. But if a relationship with God is a choice, then worship becomes one too. But why worship in the first place? To make God feel greater? This thought always echoed in my mind, and my response was, “Because He deserves it.” But why? McManus spells it out again by saying, “Worship is not something we are called to so that God can reinforce his status. It is his way of calling us nearer.” It is another aspect of the relationship designed to intervene. It ties the supernatural and the natural together and shows us a glimpse of what a relationship of choice is all about.
“To dream is a thing of children; to imagine, a luxury adults cannot indulge in.”
I was a late bloomer. Not in the sense of looks, or success, but in growing up. I was always responsible and always understood the importance of maturity, but I never grew out of my imagination too quickly. I loved playing pretend games, building forts with my younger cousins and crafting away. And even now, at 20 years old, I still find myself mystified by the beauty of imagination. I remember in junior high a girl told me to grow up. But growing up doesn’t have to do with sacrificing your creativity –– in fact, creativity grows up alongside you if you allow it to. But it all came together when McManus said, “To dream is a thing of children; to imagine, a luxury adults cannot indulge in.” So often, adults miss the potential creativity and imagination can add to their lives, because of the false stigmas built around it. But, if we allow creativity to take the reins, we can transform the invisible into the visible, as McManus says.
“I envy those people who early on identified a singular talent, knew exactly what they were born to do, and spent their entire lives doing it well.”
I have never related to a sentence more until McManus said, “I envy those people who early on identified a singular talent, knew exactly what they were born to do, and spent their entire lives doing it well.” I am a jack of all trades, but I am not a master at a single one –– at least it feels that way. Throughout my life, people would utter how proud they were of me and how good I was at what I did. But what I did included, dance and school and writing and art and music and the list goes on. I did so much because I was searching for what I was born to do. And there were others who were automatically talented at a single thing, and they focused everything –– their career endeavors, schooling, etc. –– on that one thing. But I had to search for my thing. However, searching made me appreciate what I do well all that much more. In college, I discovered my love of writing and editing, and now I am pursuing it as my career. While I envy those who have been tackling their dream since day one, I now have mine and must pursue it with all that I have.
“The colors we use to paint our own lives splash all over the souls of those who are closest to us.”
McManus said, “The colors we use to paint our own lives splash all over the souls of those who are closest to us.” The colors that I try and paint my life with include love, happiness, and kindness. Everything I do comes back to those three entities, meaning everything I do exemplifies those three entities. When this happens, those around me are able to interact with what I am putting forth, and hopefully, they get a taste of love, happiness, and kindness. And that’s what I think McManus means. But he goes on to say, “Humanity is our most important canvas, our most important medium.” We can choreograph an exquisite dance or paint a marvelous ceiling, but if we leave people out of the equation, it is nothing. Art is manifested to impact, and impact is impossible without people. So as we paint with our unique colors, we must understand the reasoning for what we do.
“All art is an extension of ourselves.”
When I read that quote, I thought of the juxtaposed reality we live in. We can create a beautiful sculpture but then look at ourselves and think we are less than. We can create a melodious song, but then think our lives are off-key. We often separate ourselves from our art and see it as an existential piece, but that couldn’t be more false. If we created the art, then we are the art. Just like God, the ultimate creator created us, he is reflected in us. We are tied together because the artist and the artwork cannot be separated. And that goes for everything everyone creates. Like McManus said, “All art is an extension of ourselves,” and we must begin to understand the gravity of that truth.