The biggest challenge facing a person is keeping the belief firmly in place that what she is attempting matters enough to be done. A person’s main challenge is therefore existential ie. we question whether what we are doing has any purpose. Given how many novels or paintings there are in the world already, plus how hard it is to do the work well, as well as having to question and deal with critics from within our family and those outside, after a while becomes mind numbing, frightening and worst of all, questionable.
How this happens is either very slowly and creeps upon you until suddenly it is there like a gorilla on your chest or suddenly, like a lightening bolt flash — high anxiety and terror. Without notice you become aware of your mortality — I may die and never finish this! or question whether this is what you are doing at all.
The great painters at the turn of the twentieth century who fell in love with African art recognized that those tribal artists worked with a pure power because they did not doubt what they were doing because it was invested with socio and religious connotations — something that most modern artists ignore, despise or belittle. So it is no wonder that avant-garde Parisians at the turn of the 20th Century, were plagued by doubts about the meaning and purpose of life. Sartre young and Parisian exemplified this in his works, only later on, to see what it did to others, recanted. His life long lover, Simone de Beauviour believed it was a setup and denounced the denunciation, remaining firm until the end. But then she had far less to lose, and less effect.
When I was young I was heavily influenced by Jean Paul Satre and Simone, I read his books and it was also reinforced by the society around us, best typified by television which is a series of shows that are nothing about nothing finally reaching their philosophical culmination with Seinfeld.
Anxiety arises in us when we fear that our efforts do not matter , that we feel our work th does not matter, that our lives do not matter and that is naught. Suicides of course write notes that are filled with such pessimism. Recently a friend on Facebook wrote how her best friend committed suicide in the dead of winter, and was probably “depressed”. Of course that goes without saying, who commits suicide at the height of happiness? Do you know anyone? I surely don’t and I keep track.
Since anxiety arises in either case, decide to do work that matters to you, even if that provokes anxiety. Refuse to countenance the thought that you and your efforts do not matter–really banish that thought–and just work through it. Of course that is hard, but discipline really is needed here at this juncture, otherwise you will succumb to the temptation of anxiety and either face the challenge again or eventually stop questioning at all and just give in.
Accept that when you opt to matter you will provoke anxiety, and that is something that you will have to master. A good method that I have found that works, is planning planning & scheduling your creative work, into your daily routine (preferably the night before), and then make it a ritual so you have something to focus on the next day.
And then finally n remember some of these verses from the Good Book to help you along:
Job. xxxviii. 41
Who provides food for the ravens when their young cry out to God and wander about in hunger?
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young
The very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you , and before you were born I set you apart
The Lord is my light amidst my darkness and my rescue in times of trouble. So whom shall I fear? He surrounds me with a fortress of protection. So nothing can cause me harm.
Tonight I will sleep securely on a bed of peace because I trust You, and You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.