I have a confession to make: I’m becoming disenchanted with The Artist’s Way.
I still plan to continue the program…I want to be able to say that I finished it…but the past couple of weeks have been difficult for me to swallow, for a number of reasons.
For one thing, do you remember me speaking kindly of the author when I first began reading the book, because she believes in God and the spirituality of creativity, but also insists that you don’t have to believe in God for the program to be helpful? Yeah…I thought that was great when I first read it, because us atheists are creative people to, but it seems as though the author forgot about this proclamation as the book went on. For example, week number 6 is about “recovering a sense of abundance”, and the “abundance” that the author is talking about in the first half of the chapter is “abundance as provided by God”. At this point in the book she seems to have completely given up on the moniker, “The Great Creator” and just regularly talks about God all the time. Specifically, in this chapter, she talks about money and how we worry about it so much (especially because of the “starving artist” image), but if we just accept that God wants us to be happy and successful, He will provide for us.
Now, if you believe in God, that’s all well and good. I can see how someone who truly believes in a higher power could take these lessons and gain something special from them.
But if you don’t believe in God, it starts to sound like so much hooey. It makes it very difficult to push through the chapters when you’re gritting your teeth and your eye is twitching every two seconds because the author keeps insisting that an almighty being you don’t believe in is going to magically make sure that everything you do works out in the end.
I have nothing against anyone who believes in that, but I don’t, so it makes the book a little difficult to read.
In addition to that whopper, I’m finding myself getting a little bored with the book because the tasks are starting to all look the same. In fact, some of them are exactly the same. For instance, do you remember the “Imaginary Lives” post I wrote a while back as one of the exercises? That exact same exercise has popped up in two more chapters. Literally, the exact same exercise. Lots of the other tasks are similar as well, basically asking you to look at the same issues over and over, answer the same questions over and over, and take the same ideas into consideration over and over. The author dresses things up by, for instance, asking you to find pictures or drawings to illustrate a particular point…but it’s still the same point that you dealt with in the previous chapter.
With all that said and done, I will however admit that there are still parts of the book that are clinging to my interest. For instance, in this “abundance” chapter, after the several pages talking about how God will provide, the author goes on to talk about “luxury”…specifically, how we tend to deny it of ourselves.
Luxury, in this case, does not mean expensive trips, a new car, or season tickets to a popular sports team’s games. It can mean anything, from the very small to the very large, that we deny ourselves for a number of reasons. One of the ones that rang out for me (because it’s so common these days) is time. We deny ourselves the luxury of time. We say that we can’t have a moment’s rest because of all the work we have to do. We say that we can’t have five minutes to ourselves because we have to deal with the kids. We say that we don’t have time for that because oh my god look at my to-do list, it’s three miles long!!! In reality, we could have a bit of time to ourselves if we were willing to look for it, or willing to do what it takes to obtain it. We can set the least important of our tasks aside for a day in order to take a nice long bath. We can pawn the kids off on a friend or relative every now and then in order to have some alone time. We have the time, we just need to see it, grab it, and force ourselves to use it, which is something that we naturally rebel against because, oh hey, it’s the Virtue Trap again!
Other luxuries might be little things that we shy away from because we feel we shouldn’t be wasting money on them. For instance, someone may love blueberries, but never buy them because they’re so expensive. In reality, that few dollars is probably not going to make a difference in the long run, so it’s worth it to give yourself a little ray of sunshine. But we deny ourselves these little things because we have a disproportionate sense of how luxury affects us. We’ll spend lots of money on things that don’t really matter to us just because society tells us that’s what we should spend our money on (lots of people spend thousands every year on satellite tv to watch two or three shows), but we deny ourselves the little things that we could spend a few bucks on to make ourselves happy (the twice-the-cost super-silky shower gel that feels so awesome and makes you feel like a million bucks).
We could all stand to have a little luxury in our lives; little things that perk us up and give us a little shot of happy in our lives. What could you give yourself today that you normally deny yourself? What little thing could you pick up for yourself that would make your day a little brighter? Go get it! Go get it right now!