When Things Get Tough, Keep Going

The rush of a new idea sizzles and crackles. Inspiration has hit, and the vision unfolds—of a new project, a new business, a novel, a way of being that seems suddenly possible, logical, and clear. When we are lucky enough to receive these flashes, we can become fixated on the pursuit of them. That energy wants to go somewhere, wants to act and make happen. We see what is possible and become impatient for that world to unfold, short-tempered with the people and obstacles that do not share our vision and seemed driven to impede the process, or simply ignore it altogether. That brilliant lightning flash threatens to burn away these connections as we pursue it with determination.

The world is not set up to support logic and clarity, however. Where the rational mind wants a direct path from inspiration to execution, the process of making an idea manifest is circuitous and beset by chance and change. The sevenfold alchemical process provides a map of the process—from the purest stage of ideation, the thought passes through opposition and refinement until it can finally become manifest, and then the manifest reality itself experiences conflict and opposition until finally taking its mature expression. Every artist and creator can speak to the gap between the idea and the reality—the novel that seems so perfect when unwritten and becomes something wholly other by the time it is published. The gestating child, surrounded by its parents’ hopes and fears, that eventually becomes its own adult.

This lesson seems hardest for people who are intellectually oriented to appreciate. Because the image is so clear and resonates so loudly, the disappointment and effort to manifest seems somehow wrong, any compromise from the vision a betrayal. These limitations and conditions are where the creative process becomes deeply engaged. If we do not see these as problems and signs of failure but rather opportunities for innovation and refinement, the creator discovers opportunities and lessons to include in their work. That ferocious energy of innovation ripens into the quiet determination of completion, producing results again and again. Our will gets energized by that energy of inspiration and creation, which gives us the power to keep moving through the stages of involution and evolution in spite of the challenges that inevitably beset the process.