“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. ” — Joseph Campbell
I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot today, for a few reasons. The first is that I’m considering what I want to learn next. I keep adding to my skill set every few years, and love to keep learning and learning. Honestly, I don’t even care of it’s practical or if I use it. I just love to read and learn and engage with new information.
The second I suppose I used to believe that you had to suffer to make good art. That to make money or even have a semi-comfortable existence due to your art was “selling out,” and that somehow getting attention was too awful to consider. I was stupid then.
I’ve come to realize it’s not about the suffering, but about the abyss. To be able to sidle up to it, run toward it, or peek over the edge isn’t just a fear-producing form of torture. It’s a privilege, an opportunity the universe grants so you’ll first of all be more appreciative for your life, which always looks a lot better when you’ve looked into the abyss, and second of all will see more deeply into human experience, and be able to create from that place. No matter what you do, music never sounds the same if you’ve had a near-death experience. Art doesn’t look the same, relationships with people you care about don’t feel the same, and really nothing will ever be the same. So you live in that place every day.
So the next time I stumble, I’m gonna give a little fist pump of joy when I’m on the ground. If that’s where the treasure is, I’m gonna look for it, roll around in it, revel in it until I find the good stuff.