Philip Deal Books

A certain kind of courage


We creative types are very good at finding fault in our own work, which really isn’t much of an accomplishment, given the perfection of human  imperfection. Still, we revel in our ability to find fault:

“Look! My dream of a perfect painting fell short again.” (Sigh)

“My story is… so not as wonderful as I had hoped for.” (Sigh)

“My poems are so… [[pick one: predictable, passe, lackluster].” (Sigh)

So let me suggest something new, something truly inspiring. Today (there isn’t really a tomorrow, remember? Never will be. Is that sinking in yet?), before you go to bed, look at something you’ve made without finding fault. It takes a certain kind of courage to do that, to say “This poem or song or story or quilt I made is good” (and then not add, “I know it could be better but”).

I can help with this:

  1. Find a place where you will not be disturbed.
  2. Put on some headphones.
  3. Play a George Winston song, or if you don’t like piano music (what are you, an alien?) try something from Neil Young’s Harvest.
  4. Put in a set of fresh eyes, the ones you keep on hand for looking at your best friend’s work, or that of your child or lover. You know, those friendly eyes that see with love. 
  5. Now look at a piece of your own work, knowing it is flawed but not caring…

…AND LOVE THAT WORK! LOVE IT the way you love your friend’s or child’s or lover’s, as if it is the only piece of art that will ever be created.

It takes a certain kind of courage to do this. If you can’t do it, you need more courage, because if you can’t love your own work, not even for a few minutes, all you will ever be is disappointed, first in yourself, then in others, then in the imperfect world you were born into and will die from.

One Response

  • Bart
    Jan 11, 2017

    Nice, Phil. Words I needed to hear and will try to put into practice.

    Bart Jan 11, 2017

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