Commencement Part 7: Failure is an option. In fact, it is a requirement.

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I stand here tonight a genuinely happy human, doing work that provides nourishment and satisfaction for me, my family, my friends and clients. I live as often as possible in Magic Time, in Flow, in the beautiful mess of the Creative Process. It wasn’t always this way.

There were thousands of hours wasted chasing false idols of money and prestige. Self-delusion distracted me from pursuing the very thing for which I toiled through college.

In order to be fully present in the creative process, steeped in visitor’s mind, open to leaving behind all false models of good or bad, beautiful or bland, correct or incorrect. I must be willing to fail utterly, and be confronted with my shortcomings, my fears, my lack of ability. All of the things I don’t know.

When overcome by fear, I put in place every conceivable distraction to keep me from facing myself. It is a fight.

This is one of the conundrums of the creative process. Joy (or Flow if you will) is only achieved through suffering. Love is only achieved by facing down fear. Or more – embracing fear as my ally in this fight against bland work.

All roads leading to success – every last one of them – run smack-dab through the worst neighborhoods of that wreck of a town named Failure. There are no short-cuts. The traffic is bad, your GPS breaks down. The streets were designed by mad weavers.

I often still struggle with that road trip. I get lost every single time, but I make sure I have stalwart travel companions. With them and faith in the car, I can endure the ride until we arrive at paradise.

All this may be mistaken as self-serving indulgence. Esthete arrogance. Please understand. Humility is central to my ability to access creativity. Empathy is a crucial ingredient in art.

But, in order to be happy I have learned the hard way to turn the compassion I feel for others toward myself as well. Not doing so cheats my relationship with Creativity.

We have this gift of creativity and are responsible to share it unselfishly. By practising with utmost respect, we come to know Creativity not as a fickle bitch, but a trusted lover who will never abandon us as long as we remain true to the integrity of the relationship.

Humanity expects and requires I practice with this intention or my offering is squandered.

The final installment of this address will be updated Thursday, July 21.

Painting above created by Nicole Misiti