Taking Your Inner Artist on the Hero’s Journey: Part 1
Updated: Apr 1, 2022
Some friends of ours have joined us in reading through a book called 'The Artist's Way'. Maybe you've seen the Instagram quotes from this book we share every Tuesday. Maybe you've been completely inspired and want to know more! Well, today is your lucky day. Because I'm gonna fill you in on some of the awesome stuff we've been taking away from this book!
I'll start you off on Week 9, because that is the week I just completed. (There's 12 weeks total, and I'm already starting to feel a little nostalgic!) To get into the right frame of mind, I want you to imagine that you're a character in a Tolkien novel. And you have accepted a quest. In this case, your quest is to uncover your truest self - your inner artist. We've all got one. And you've got to convince your inner artist to wake up and start doing their life's work, already! The fate of the world rests upon this very important decision!
So. Here you are, walking along with your inner artist. Your inner artist is on the young-ish side, skittish and easily bored. First of all, you're going to need to turn this whole shebang into a super fun game. That's right. You need to lead with fun, and treats, and super easy steps, to get this artist to where they need to go. And who better than you, that knows this artist so very well?
But what's this? A troll? Standing in your path? Oh no - it looks so big! It's so...greasy! That's right - it's a fear of failure, laughing at you! It's mean and green and a muscular machine! You look over at your artist, and they are not looking so hot right now. They look ready to run.
But then you remember - your friend, the elf Barnaby Thundercrunder, who took this journey not five months hence, and met this very same troll. So you call him up on your Tolkienian cell phone (that's right, this is a fantasy realm with modern technology) and you ask him how to get past this troll. Your artist tries to stop you, they tell you it's cheating, but you don't care! There are no rules about cheating when it comes to fighting fear of failure. You're gonna take this sucker down however you can.
So you get past the troll and keep on walking. But then you notice your artist starting to slow...down.....and almost come to a stop. Why? You look closer and notice that their backpack seems awfully heavy, more than it should be. You take a look inside and, lo and behold, they're carrying around some resentment toward their 3rd grade art teacher, who also happened to be their dad, who told them half-jokingly they'd never amount to anything. You ask them how long they've been carrying this around with them, and its been there this whole time. So you, prepared Artist Scout that you are, produce a giant, delicious slice of compassion and make sure they eat the whole thing.
Then you talk to them until they're willing to put the resentment down. Sure, they might want to run back for it at some point (because after all, it has been with them for longer than most relationships). But you can deal with that then. For now, their pack is lighter and you can get going again.
And now here you both are. Walking along, the sun is shining, not a cloud in the sky. And then it hits your artist - you are both a truly long way from home. This is the farthest they have ever come. This thought stops them in their tracks. Is it safe to go further? And then they start spiraling - how much farther are they going to have to walk? What if the journey never ends? What if they don't recognize themselves by the end of the journey? What if they don't have what it takes to get all the way?
And what's more, the destination...what if it's not that great after all? Or worse - what if it's totally amazing and takes 100% more effort to keep up? What if they become famous and then have to hire a tax specialist who then robs them of their earnings and lands them in federal prison and they're making toilet wine at the age of 90...
Right then, you can see it in their eyes. They are revving up for a good old-fashioned run around, which means 'back around to where they started'. This calls for yet another slice of compassion. You may need to give them some petty cash for a pity party, just them and their one-eyed teddy bear named Rufus. (Watch out, though, Rufus can throw back a LOT of cake.) But when they've stopped screaming, remind them that they did manage to take down a troll back there, which was pretty heroic, if you do say so yourself. Not to mention, if you go back now, you'll have to walk this road all over again later, and aren't we a little bit too old for that sort of thing? You may not want to say this next part right now, but the truth is that even if they turn back and go home, they can't really go home. It just wouldn't feel the same way. Not after they beat a troll and finally put down the resentment.
Ideally, at this point the two of you come up with a rockin' plan for how to face a greedy tax professional, the best recipes for toilet wine for those over the age of 60, and what the first thing you'll do to celebrate your hard earned fame when it hits. Then you can go on, off into the sunset, ready for anything. But if not, just know that they'll probably come back around given time. And you can try again then.