Jazz master and saxophonist, Wayne Shorter once stated: “Your humanity is your instrument.” In parallel, an artist’s body could be considered the instrument case. Creatives spend hours towards the development of their instrument case and the expression of their craft, undergoing strength training in the form of physical and mental exercises and rehearsals, perfecting their posture under pressure.
Inevitably, within the arc of artist development, life lands unexpected weights in the most vulnerable areas, at the most inopportune times, in the arrival of circumstances beyond individual control. There are multiple self-help mantras that speak to the necessity of such trials and challenges towards the development of mental fortitude and moral character, although, given the gravity and permanency of those experiences, and the subsequent dissolution of perspective, it can be difficult to find the meaning within those mantras when they fail to provide any context towards your pain or loss. How do you find the wherewithal to forge ahead and continue creating, when you are unable to find meaning in your circumstances?
There is a popular phrase derived from scripture that is often offered in times of loss and confusion to provide context in the experience of loss: All things are working together for your good. In the midst of a loss, it is difficult to conceive the good to be gained, particularly if it alters the ability to create. The question arises: If my purpose is tied to my creative ability, why was this weight--this bankruptcy, this theft, this injustice, this chronic medical diagnosis, this assault, this desertion, this trauma, this death--allowed at my weakest point, and how can the permanency of it be meant for my good?
There is partial comfort in the simple analogy of strength training—and viewing the Creator as the spotter. As our humanity undergoes development upon the potter’s wheel, it is impossible to see the macro from the vantage point of a higher intelligence who is privy to the amount of weight that can be tolerated, and who ultimately knows what will be produced from it as a result: the emotional depth, the broadening of emotional IQ, the empathy and perception of the human condition, the sharpening of insight, the increase of faith, tenacity or resolve. As seen during the Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt, there was a shorter route to safety that was available, but they were directed in a ‘roundabout’ route. Per the Creator’s perspective, he did not want them to change their minds and return to Egypt upon discovering that there was conflict ahead, so he lengthened their journey to remove the option. In turn, how could the Israelites have known or understood the meaning in their circumstances of being backed against the Red Sea without the privilege of present-day spoilers of what was to come?
While completing reps against the weight of circumstance, it may appear easier and more sensible to quit and quietly adapt to your circumstances, especially when they land without fault. Even with the injustice of facing the weight of undeserved trouble or loss, it may be worth the repetitions for the sake of gaining mobility and moving forward. Regardless of whether or not the circumstances are merited, the weight will remain in place, until you’ve finished the reps.
Work your weight.