Artist. /ˈatəst/ noun. Someone skilled in an applied art or industry.
According to Australia’s national dictionary, the Macquarie, the definition I’ve given you is obsolete. The idea of an artist being someone skilled in applying themselves to an industry or craft - or even the production or expression of beauty - is obsolete. These days, if you’re an artist, you are only a practitioner of the fine arts, or a performer.
‘It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words,’ wrote George Orwell in his seminal volume 1984.
So, we’ll just let it go and enjoy the broader (more appropriate) meaning of the term.
Happiness comes from letting go. But what does ‘letting go’ actually mean?
For those of you who are in your own businesses, your experience is probably like mine has been. It’s an experience of holding on, of grasping at a whole lot of differently shaped and textured balls, alarmed when they fall to the floor, cheering when you can carry them for a short distance, and being exhausted at the end of a day (or week).
People talk about 'juggling’, but the act of juggling is different. It’s an act of power.
Juggling suggests that you not only have balance, but strength, ease of movement, great timing, and intense, focused concentration. In real life, I can juggle just three balls; and I’ve stood in wonder and watched people I know juggle six or more: Their ease belies the effort and concentration, and that’s where their power is.
Is letting go about giving up?
It’s not, but isn’t it tempting to see it that way sometimes!
True mastery can be gained
by letting things go their own way
- Lao Tzu
Rather, the deceptively simply phrase letting go is truly about:
Being present enough to experience whatever is going on right now.
Doing the work right now that will move you forwards
Taking advantage of any Doorways Of Opportunity that open in front of you.
Allowing the outcome to occur for you, in whatever shape it happens to take.
Jim Carrey’s commencement speech at the graduation of the Maharishi University of Management's class of 2014 is instructive:
Letting go is about releasing your grasp on the seductive illusion of control. There is no control, just as there is no try. You do it, you experience it. Your only task is to be where you are.
As a business owner, this may be terrifying because you might feel like you’re letting go of your sense of control. Your mind is a whirring machine, adept at tricking you into thinking that thinking is helpful.
But, just like social media, thinking is only helpful if you direct it and use it effectively.
This notion of Letting Go occurred to me this week as a result of three things:
The death of my father-in-law on Monday (technically, stepfather-in-law, but meh technicalities. Vale, Bob, you fascinating and beautiful man.)
A lesson learned via meditation
Watching people on social media create meaning that is not isomorphic to reality, which (because of its disconnection) forms beliefs that then come to life as Minds Fixed In Concrete. Sheesh. I decided these are not my people and made a snap decision to delete my social media accounts.
You see, you can do all the things that the Spinfluencers tell you to do in business and in life. You can follow the rules, follow the trends, hang shiny baubles on yourself and dance along to the beat of the world. You can pretend that Doublethink is your thing, use NewSpeak to be one of the cool kids and not be kicked out of the collective.
Or you can acknowledge that it exists, and appear to function in the same timing, but sing yourself a different song.
Brutal Pixie is today a great business, which is growing. My lifestyle is today designed so well that I have space to work on the projects that might even define me as an artist after I’m dead.
Acknowledging that all of this might change tomorrow, that something else might come to life, and be more meaningful to me is one thing. Prising my fingers away from the hem of its skirt is quite another.
The question is, if I (and you, in your life) don’t learn to do this, could you ever really say that you functioned without limitation?
Food for thought. Love to hear what you think.