Contentment, Complacency And The Creative Journey.
Crap! How the hell does this keep happening????
It’s almost like there’s an invisible force in the universe that knows a conversation is about to be unquestionably cut off and convinces a person’s subconscious to say something brilliant to me only seconds before having to walk on stage. It usually ends with me yelling something like, “Do you even know what you just said?” and then zoning out, thinking about it during the intro and verse one of the opening tune.
I was sitting on a green room couch with our electric-guitarist and friend of mine, Clark, when it happened again. We were absent-mindedly noodling on our guitars and making small talk about life, the creative journey, and the balancing act that is trying to be content with where we are in our journey; while still having the drive to continually better our music, our selves, our art and our craft.
“You know,” Clark said off-handedly. “I guess the hard thing is that content and complacent look really similar.”
“Hey everyone, two minutes ’til down-beat.” Our stage manager said as he popped his head in the green-room. “Check your in-ear wireless packs and make sure your battery levels are good to go.”
“Are you shitting me Clark? Do you even know what you just said?”
Franticly, I reached for my Moleskine notebook that I keep hidden in my wallet and, using the back of my bass balanced on top of my knees as a makeshift tabletop, sloppily wrote down a few words to remind my future self before making my way on stage where I’m sure everyone in the first five rows were probably wondering, “What’s wrong with the bassist, staring off into space like a weirdo?”
This past week, I was reviewing the notebook I had written in that evening, six months ago, and found myself ruminating on the conversation.
The balance of contentment and ambition seems to be a never-ending argument played on repeat inside my head, my goals and focus often times feeling like a ping-pong-ball getting hit back and forth endlessly between the paddles of those two extremes.
My real problem however, is that in my search for contentment, I often find my subconscious flirting with the comfortable numbness of complacency. A soft duvet begging to be pulled over my head to protect me from the scary movie that is the reality of my current situation. Trust me, I’ve got popcorn, if left to my own devices I could live under there obliviously for quite awhile.
For an artist or creative, complacent is more than just a comfortable and easy option. It’s a force, like gravity, constantly wanting to drag us down towards it. Our only hope for survival is veraciously fighting against that state of being with all of our intent.
But how can we tell the difference?
Complacent is based in laziness and blindness to one’s weaknesses. Complacent is unaware of one’s weaknesses and in doing so, hopes to find peace in blissful ignorance.
Contentment, however, is a satisfaction in one’s life or achievements based in gratitude for what one has. Contentment recognizes the negative and weaknesses yet finds 'peaceful happiness' in spite of it, not wanting more or anything else.
One is choosing to close our eyes,
The other is choosing to see.
One says, “I’m good where I’m at, I have nothing to work on.”
The other says, “There’s a ton I need to work on, but where I’m at is good.”
They both hope for the same outcome, The problem is,
at the beginning
content and complacent look really similar.
But I know from experience,
where they lead couldn’t be more different.
So, may your curiosity lead you to willingness to see the entirety of where you are and lead you to gratitude and peaceful happiness in the midst of all of it as you continue forward.