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The Meaning Junkie


Every week I look forward to reading a blog by Eric Maisel, PhD and Creativity Coach. He often speaks to the "hows" and "whys" of creativity on a deeper level, addressing the self-doubt and negative self-talk that artists often experience. I appreciate his blog and the encouragement he gives. More than once he has helped to pull me out of a dark pit of despair where I've been wallowing in my own bad press.

He also writes about meaning for creatives. As human beings we often desire our lives to mean something. We want to know that we have significance. As an American, I find my craving for meaning is more on an individual basis, both as a person and for each painting. So I confess that I am a meaning junkie. Without it, I would probably not get very far. I'm not just a user, but also a dealer. The meaning I've been given I want to share with others through art. Some find meaning better through writing, or construction, accounting, engineering, nursing, or music. For me it is through painting.

Perhaps there are some who are not meaning junkies. Sometimes we don't have the energy or desire to ponder what something means. Sometimes there simply is not time to explore meaning. There is only time for action. I get it. I'm not suggesting that meaning should be an excuse for laziness or inaction, but rather to find meaning in our activity. Certainly we've heard that creating is more about perspiration and less about inspiration. This is very true and often the inspiration doesn't come until we've gotten to work. However, creating would be pretty bleak without any meaning at all. There was a time in life when it seemed like all of life had no meaning, that I was just punching a time clock or "doing time" until my death, which I was willing to affect. Then someone introduced me to the One who gives meaning to all of life, even when life stinks. My best friend listens, comforts, directs, disciplines, loves, and is always there (even when it doesn't feel like it), even when life doesn't make sense.

As a whole, some cultures are more industrious and disciplined than ours. Generally, they find meaning in being a dependable part of the whole, an important cog in the machine, functioning smoothly with the others. When they as a part fail or fail to even get the job and therefore dishonor their family, they sometimes see no alternative but to remove themselves permanently. How sad to see our lives as that disposable.

Even now, there are times in all my creating when I wonder, "What does it mean?" I have to continually offer it up to the One who created me, to look to and stand in awe of Him, and to derive paintings from a deep well, from an ongoing relationship with my best friend. When I'm craving meaning, He's my supplier. Even Solomon knew that without knowing our Creator, life is "meaningless, a chasing after the wind."

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