Sometimes I paralyze myself with my own cynicism and critical mind sometimes. When I am burnt out on the posturing, inauthenticity, the mundanity, or the inanity of something in the mainstream (from soulless corporate jobs to mindless consumerism to self-referential intellectualism), it can be hard to see a way out.
Whenever I desire to share, to speak, to show something to the world, I quickly begin to rehearse the reasons why that desire may be less than noble or useful. Am I doing this just to look good? Am I just trying to impress, to placate, to justify myself, to position myself in a social hierarchy? Is this just personal PR? Is this just conformity to a system that is making life worse for everyone? Does this matter in the grand scheme of things? Doesn’t this just fall into the same pattern, the same vast vat of noise that everyone else is pouring into?
I often give up when I’m in this mindset: anything I do would likely be wasted breath.
Maybe your reflections don’t reach this depth of pointlessness. But maybe you have felt like me that nothing you can do seems to escape the gravitational pull of a culture you despise, or a personal fault you despise, or of an ego-driven motivation you wish you didn’t have.
Your critic may be right. But your critic is not the only voice worth listening to.
If somewhere inside your motivation there is true love for something – passion for a craft, compassion for a person, joy over an experience or a new sight – then your work is probably worth doing, despite its impurities and failings and mundanity.
Love like the love of a creative person is rare enough that any imperfect attempt to express it is good. No work is perfect, but in so many cases, the love redeems the work.
And while the worst influences of our own natures and our culture may seem overpowering at times, they are ultimately limited. They will be forgotten with time. Love, on the other hand, is the great universal. It’s the sort of thing that someone will spot and recognize six centuries from now, and it’s the sort of thing that will inspire six centuries from now, too.
Do the work for the sake of the love – even the smallest part of love. It won’t be wasted.