A religious creative soul understands that complete devotion to his craft is impossible.
He knows all too well that focusing on his art while disregarding prayer, learning, family life, or the productiveless Sabbath would render him as off the path with horribly misaligned priorities.
His complicated Jewish guilt conscious nags on him to dedicate himself to more “selfless” pursuits.
Though he readily admits that his bulging heart is an artist and his jealous soul constantly thirsts to dedicate himself to his craft,
He also says such well-meaning but nonsensical phrases such as:
“Instead of creating, I am teaching others to create.”
“Instead of creating, I am creating and nurturing children.”
“Instead of creating, I am doing other Gdly pursuits that are boringly, flimsily ‘creative’.”
No, that is nonsense.
That religious artistic soul is deluding himself and slowly chipping away his gasping, inner breath.
A creative soul needs to create art for himself. Period.
No holy, moral-tooting substitute will do.
Thus the first step in his path towards artistic soul achievement is comprehension that art gives him life.
It gives him chayus, that quintessential Chassidishe word for inner life and vitality that all of our meaningful existence depends on.
It gets his mind tinkering, lighting up cerebral regions darkened from years of boredom, as he finds himself thirsting for more in his life- more art, more Torah, more insights, more growth.
It gives him a pulse, a drive, a zest for thinking and being that nothing else will.
It allows him to tolerate-and even uplift-humanity.
He must guard that beating inner conviction of his unique artistic gift fiercely, committing to set times- no matter how minimal- to progress in his personal talents.
This is the first part of religious artistic realignment.
As he continues on this path of slow, creative dedication, he finds himself at the next critical roadblock.
The thrill of artistic progress pushes him to dedicate more and more spare time to it.
Conversation becomes centered around his art, others’ art , the idea of art. He becomes an Artist.
When he succeeds, his heart swells with fulfillment and intense, pleasurable energy. He feels omnipotent and blessed.
There are, however, darker times when he also fails.
And when he does, he has trouble finding his own worth again.
He forgets he has another mission in this world.
He cannot separate himself from his creations.
No, this cannot be. This is too far.
For either way, win or lose, his art must be with his hands and not the totality of his mind and spirit.
He must know intimately the he has an essence to him that is entirely beyond anything he will ever create.
He must reserve space in his heart and soul for the things that have nothing to do with him.
When he sits on the couch, he must be able to just sit and be. Just be pounds of squishy flesh, pulsating contractions, fluttering lips, and invisible soul.
He must be able to put the rest of his personally fulfilling productive life aside .
With the rest of his being, he must dedicate himself to those spiritual obligations that surround his artistically beating heart. He must be aware and open to the other. To that that doesn’t relate to him at all.
There, in the space between him and the other, he comes into contact with the never-ending supply source of his creative inspiration.
Art, he must realize, gives him life, but it is not his life.