The Creative Dilemma

by Scott Barry Kaufman, June 17, 2016 in Blog

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I am often torn between two extremes– inspiration and self-doubt. There are moments I feel I have stumbled upon a great truth, a new discovery. This enlivens my spirit and motivates me to further explore, and share. Explore and share. The deep drives of the artist. Yet, what happens when we explore, and discover that so many others have trod the same path, have been inspired by the very same questions, and have already reached satisfying conclusions? This inevitability can bring out the defenses, the self-doubt. What do I possibly have to contribute to this world? What can I say that hasn’t already been said? 

This is the creative dilemma.

I’d like to propose an antidote, the only thing I’ve found to really help me push through. In a word: gratitude. Gratitude for all of those fellow explorers, fellow discovers. There is a middle way between the extremes of euphoric inspiration and crippling self-doubt. The creative dilemma will always be an inevitable part of life, inherent in the search for meaning. To think that you are the only one with the search for meaning is folly. With gratitude and humbleness, we can not only overcome this dilemma, but push all the way through, by treating your fellow travelers with appreciation. Anything worth saying is worth saying again. And again, again, and again. Generation after generation. When truth is beauty, and beauty is good, there can be no shortage of amplification. There is value to integration, to sharing, and yes, to the constant drive for exploration. Coupled with gratitude and acknowledgment of those who have traveled on similar paths, you can look the creative dilemma right in the eyes, and see it for what it is: a ruse.

image credit: flickr


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