In Michael Gungor’s book, “The Crowd, the Critic and the Muse” he offers much needed perspective on what it means to be human and what it means to be a human in terms of art, creativity and our perceptions of reality. The book is a little hard hitting at times and sometimes Michael uses a few choice words but the book is well worth the read. You can tell he is one of those people who is creative enough to see the world in a different way than most and is able to communicate those insights in ways that are accessible, understandable, and humorous. Listen in on what he has to say about pain,
“Part of the reason people aren’t building cathedrals anymore is that we are too lazy and spoiled for the pain and the work that they demand from us. This sort of laziness leads to an artistic narcissism that creates art as a mere emotional expression of the ego rather than an intentional and profound re-ordering or re-imagining of the world. Art schools and galleries start filling up with self-indulgent narcissists who think that every fart of theirs is a work of genius because “it came from deep inside of me.”
Entitlement is not a friend of art. Work is. Pain is. Pain is that blessed and despised universal experience that creates more true art than any other human experience. Love is racked with pain. Life’s most joyful experiences—the birth of a newborn baby, the formation of deep friendship, or first consummation of love—all are associated with an experience of pain. A wedding is the joyful union of two lovers, but it begins with, “Who gives this bride away?”
Pain is as common as skin. We enter this world in pain, struggling for our first breath, and when we leave, we struggle for our last. Life ends when that struggle ends. So does good art. Pain is not the same thing as suffering. One can fully experience the pain of life without being the tortured artist who lives in constant agony. But creation is no easy task. Good art demands a fight.”
Gungor, M. (2012-10-04). The Crowd, The Critic, and the Muse: A Book for Creators (Kindle Locations 1103-1111). Woodsley Press. Kindle Edition.
Our bodies require resistance and tension to exist. Astronauts exercise in space because if they don’t, zero gravity will cause their muscles to atrophy. Pain is part of the full experience of what it means to be human. But pain goes beyond just the physical feeling that something is not right with your body. Pain or painstaking also describes the extent one goes to in order to ensure that the task they are performing or art they are creating holds up to the highest standards. The problem is, our society spends billions of dollars and billions of hours trying to avoid the very thing that makes you stronger, helps you fight harder, and enables you to accomplish things that no one else thought would be possible…pain.