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If I could write a book for future generations, a piece that held what, in my humble opinion, is timeless wisdom, I would write about craftsmanship. About devotion to a discipline. Such a relationship to art, music, programming, gardening, martial arts, chess, etc., is a journey that is as extensive as the ocean. It is a puzzle that the closer you believe you are to solve it, the more it reveals how much more there is to know. For some, it can become a career that pays the bills, but for everyone who shows their loyalty day after day, it gives a reason to live. It is the expression of beauty and elegance when one surrenders time, effort, and perseverance.
I wish everyone had a craft, a plant that one is committed to taking care of, loving, and respecting every day. Some take their hobby as an excuse to be a lonely wolf, but the truth is that any art form is a language that allows you to communicate with other enthusiasts. It is a means to be welcome in a new tribe and connect with others.
Some call it a passion, but it isn’t always a pretty relationship. Sometimes craft can reflect your immaturity, impatience, and the manifestations of your ego. At times it makes you feel incompetent. It makes you doubt why you are even doing it. But at other moments, your craft is a teacher that keeps whispering to you to please get out of your own way. And my friend, that feeling of surrendering doesn’t have a price.
In psychology is called the state of flow. In spirituality is called awakening. Everyone experiences it when they fall in love or when they are in front of a beautiful landscape. It gives you a taste of what it is to dissolve and become one with the instrument, words, or movement. Some call it ego dissolution. Cultivate discipline, and over time you will taste what it feels like not to strive or crave anything. You fill whole in those moments of engagement. You learn to be open and feel enlarged by receiving whatever the muses (the creative forces outside of our understanding) can offer. Praying and meditating provide a similar experience. You become a vehicle for grace.
I implore you to choose an art form if you don’t have one yet because it isn’t easy to find many other ways to exercise the muscle of commitment, dedication, and faithfulness. It will help you develop the ability to let go of judgment. To be present. Only through long-term practice will you realize there is nowhere to go, nothing to become, and nothing to prove. You accept what is happening now without clinging to be different.
I promise you it will change your life. It will be a friend that will stand next to you when facing tragedy and adversity. It will train you to overcome the discomfort of stepping into the unknown. It will make you resilient when facing hardship. Such qualities will transfer to other areas in life. Forget about doing it for the by-product of external recognition. Do it for the sake of experiencing transcendence. Do it to learn that which you still don’t know about yourself. Do it to bring light to others who cannot find meaning in their lives. I often find myself when paradoxically, I decide to lose myself in my craft.
With all love,
Santiago Barragan Noguera
Coach & Educator — Artistic Polymath
Copyright © 2021 Santiago Barragan Noguera. All rights reserved.