Creativity & Inspiration

How to Understand Art - A Mark Rothko Case Study

The idea of taking your Tinder date to an art gallery sounds good in theory. But going there, looking at the paintings and thinking to yourself, "I don’t get this" isn't fulfilling. 

Or you come across an article on the internet about some abstract painting selling for $20 million dollars and you go, "Wait, whaaaat?"

Or let's say you have developed an interest in the arts. Perhaps that Tinder date went well, and you want to make a grand gesture by gifting a painting. How do you decide which one is good to buy? After all, there is no manual which says that a painting in a certain style is superior than others.

You learn that 'good art' is subjective. Why then are some artists held in higher regard than the others? What is it about Picasso, Dali, Van Gogh and Da Vinci that makes them indisputable geniuses? If you are not an art connoisseur, how do you identify great art from bad? Or even before that, how do you understand what the artwork is about?

This post is my attempt to answer these questions by tackling the work of a painter I admire - Mark Rothko. Also covered are the topics ‘Why to understand Art at all’ and ‘The Business of Art.’


WHO IS MARK ROTHKO?

Rothko (1903-1970) was an American painter of Russian descent. The images below are some of his works:

This style (called 'multiforms' by critics)- large blurred fields of solid color devoid of any figures or symbols - was his signature work. His paintings often feature in the list of most expensive paintings. This one went for $188 million, this for $90.6 million and this for $84 million.

The small images here won't do justice to his work. But I've added them to give you a reference point for everything that follows.


WHY MARK ROTHKO

Falling in romantic love is instinctive rather than calculative. We fall in love with the whole human being and not just with the sum of their individual qualities. This is why we hear things like "I love him for what he is as a person," or "I love how she makes me feel." A piece of art is quite similar.

This is where our first lesson begins.

  Mark Rothko in front of one his paintings

Mark Rothko in front of one his paintings

When I first looked at a Rothko, I was instantly captivated. I felt strong overwhelming emotions and a feeling of transcendence that I’ve experienced rarely. There was no rhyme or reason to my attraction towards it; there doesn't need to be any. Sometimes, a painting's job can just be to make a wall look better. Art's primary function is to be admired. It doesn't have to reveal a profound secret message to be worthy of appreciation.

So the simplest way to understand or judge a painting is to answer - Do you like it? And by 'like' I do not mean the technical qualities, but just enquiring whether it looks aesthetically attractive to you.

I chose Rothko because it appealed to me. The minimal language of his work goes well with my philosophy of life. But there is no need for you to feel the same way to understand it. Perhaps you even had a few questions like:

  • Why is it so famous?
  • What am I supposed to understand?
  • What's the meaning of this?
  • Isn't this very easy to make?
  • This was sold for $50 million dollars! Is this real life?

All these are valid questions which deserve an intelligent response. But that is for later. For now, all we need to do is simply answer the ‘Do you like it?’ question. Do you think it looks good? Keep the doubts for later and just observe without any notions about what it may or may not mean.


FORM AND CONTENT

Lesson number two. 

After the initial reaction, it is a good idea to look at the form, the painting itself: The canvas frame, color palette, the subject, shapes, brush strokes, layers. Imagine how it was done, how it could be done.

Rothko used large canvases

In the case of Rothko, you notice the simplicity and the deliberate lack of any symbolic reference. You notice the depth and intensity of colors, how there is a luminous quality to them. Or how the canvas seems much bigger than it is. You imagine that working on this painting would have been physically taxing for the artist. 

You notice the patterns in all his work. Big rectangular boxes filled with deep colors in a flat picture plane -  the boxes which appear to hover in and out of the picture plane.

Slowly the painting unravels a bit more. Numerous layers over layers of paint. The blue slightly visible behind the predominantly burgundy box. Or the green superimposed over the red. You notice these less evident colors at the edges or through the thin layers of the primary paint. This unravelling is like watching the artist’s process of creation in reverse chronological order.

You notice the name of the paintings and are surprised to see that most of them are titled 'Untitled' or 'No. X'  or 'Orange, Red and Blue'. You sense the artist's deliberate attempt to avoid shoving his ideas towards the observer. It is what it is.

You hear someone telling a story of how when a journalist asked Rothko to explain his paintings, he said, "Silence is so accurate." You sneer at this artsy-fartsy statement. But then you have a longer look at the painting. And you realise that what he said might make sense to some. The paintings really don't say anything specific. Silence could be accurate. Your head spins a bit. You move on.

Of course all this is more apparent when you can see it in person. Rothko himself recommended that viewers position themselves as little as eighteen inches away from the canvas to experience "a sense of intimacy, awe, a transcendence of the individual and a sense of the unknown." People recount of experience of being engulfed by the painting or becoming a part of it. The barrier between the art and the audience vanishes.

The lack of frames on his pictures is because of this reason. According to Rothko, framing a painting implies that there exists a different reality in the work. But he did not distinguish between the canvas and the world outside. The intention was to "eliminate all obstacles between the painter and the idea and between the idea and the observer." 

"I also hang the largest pictures so that they must be first encountered at close quarters, so that the first experience is to be within the picture. This may well give the key to the observer of the ideal relationship between himself and the rest of the pictures." - Rothko

Once you do this observation, you start associating certain qualities to the painting. A little more understanding is achieved merely by looking at it for longer than a few seconds.

Art often serves as a reflection of our times and the artist's personal exploration of her own identity around the zeitgeist. Thus, the next step in our understanding will come from the history and the context. For this, we have to go beyond the canvas.


BEYOND THE CANVAS - THE CONTEXT

Rothko's early work was much different from his later style. Some of his early work:

This was followed by a phase of transition to the multiforms:

This progression tells us a story of an artist who experimented with different styles before finding one which resonated with him. It teaches us one more thing - the debunking of the overnight genius myth. 

Rothko’s final style of multiform wasn't an overnight spur of the moment decision. It wasn't on a whim that he decided to paint something like this. It took him years to perfect a style with which he could express all that he wanted to. It was as if he was learning this new style by trial and error. A method to madness, if you will.

The notions often associated with artists of making something totally random or esoteric or pretentious are thus invalidated in case of Rothko. After all, we have to ask ourselves, what was that thing that drove an artist who was as skilful as he was, to find a style which looks so simple and continue doing it for the rest of his life. What was this conviction in purpose, and where did he find it from?

In Rothko, we had an artist who broke away from the status quo, created a new style which was radically different from everything else at the time, and had the conviction and self-belief to persevere even in the face of doubters and naysayers.

Rothko Chapel

Thus, when you are looking at a Rothko, you are also looking at the result of conviction in purpose, thousands of hours of experimentation, rejection, and perseverance. If you want to take anything from his work, that in itself is enough.

The originality of his style is also something to be cherished upon. Most of what we do, the words I write, the person we are - is influenced by something external -the people we meet, the books we read, the places we go to. So when we find true originality, it should be celebrated.

In the book 'The Artist's Way', the author says of writing which I think is true for most art - we are conduits for the art to flow through us onto the canvas/paper. An artist’s job thus becomes that of a passageway rather than that of a glorified creator. In a life filled with mundane activities, this makes it a way of accessing the divine. 

While drawing his pictures, or while imagining them, Rothko experienced this spiritual feeling. And this is what he wants to convey through his pictures. If we look at the pictures and search for a meaning in the shapes or the exact color used, we won't find it. This was abstract art, and abstract by definition means "existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence." or "relating to or denoting art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but rather seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, colours, and textures."

If you are thinking that this is becoming tangential and bordering on the line of some spiritual bullshit, you are forgiven. It is fair to ask what is this 'spiritual feeling' that Rothko wanted to express. How do we understand it? This is where the next part comes, which to me is the most important bit of this whole post.


ART AND AUDIENCE

"The most interesting painting is one that expresses more of what one thinks than of what one sees." - Rothko

This section is about you. Not the collective pronoun 'you' who are all the readers. But 'You', the individual reading this post while taking a break from work, or on the Uber ride back to home, or while browsing your Facebook feed in the toilet. 

Art needs audience. And each individual in that audience gives that art a different meaning. Without an audience to ascribe meaning to it, the art would lose its purpose. A great book is nothing but ink on paper if it doesn't inspire or entertain or make someone laugh. 

Let me give you an example.

I am a big fan of Linkin Park and always will be. They might be passe now, but I will always have a fond memory of them. Music has been a great influence in my life. It has played a large role in shaping me the way I am. And Linkin Park was my gateway drug into music. They were probably the first band through which I was introduced to western music. I studied for hours in a dingy, smelly room while preparing for IIT entrance exam - their music kept me awake. I have sang aloud with friends while 'Numb' played in a rental car's shitty audio system while on a trip to Goa. I have played it on repeat on speakers in college until someone came and lent me a different CD or took their CD player away.

The point is that I have associated Linkin Park with my memories. And it is I who created those associations. And these links can be different for others. It might have been a way to deal with teenage angst for a kid growing up, or a guy who met his future wife at a LP concert might associate it with love. 

Great art isn't great just for what it is. It is great for what it does to you, the changes it brings about. It becomes part of the moments of your life. It shapes them. 

The meaning that we seek in life, the purpose and the singular reason for which we do the things we do everyday isn't to be found in a textbook, or on an inscription in a cave wall, or in the careless depths of LSD infused trance. Or even in a Mark Rothko painting. It is to be found within us, and in our understanding of the world around us. That meaning is what we choose to ascribe to things in our life. 

If we decide to accumulate as much money as possible, then that's our meaning of life. If we decide to uplift the poor to a better state of living, then that's our meaning. Great art, like Rothko for me, gives meaning to my existence and the things I do. Or put it another way, it is I who decides what that painting will do to me. It is empowering. 

It is I who decides to find meaning and understanding in this quote by Rothko - 

"Small pictures since the Renaissance are like novels; large pictures are like dramas in which one participates in a direct way."

It is I who chooses to say ‘true that’ to this quote by him - 

"If you are only moved by color relationships, you are missing the point. I am interested in expressing the big emotions - tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on. And the fact that a lot of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions… The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationship, then you miss the point."

Or in this one -

"Shapes have no direct association with any particular visible experience, but in them, one recognizes the principle and passion of organisms."


WHY TO UNDERSTAND ART AT ALL

There are three reasons for me in the increasing order of complexity.

1. “I think you want to learn about art because you had an experience of some sort - a totally non-redemptive but vaguely exciting experience, like brushing up against a girl with big boobs in the subway."

- David Hickey, Art Critic/Journalist/Writer.

If you ignore the slightly sexist comment, you can see what this guy means here. It is just a way to make you a more rounded person. Learning about why an artist, Picasso for example, is called a genius, never hurt one anyone right? Call it curiosity to understand this facet of life.

2. "The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls."

- Pablo Picasso

For me, art is therapeutic. If I have a bad day, a day filled with art exploration usually recharges me. In fact, I have been struggling with work for the past one week. And today's act of writing this post has already made me feel much better.

Painting is slow art. You cannot look at it for 5 seconds and declare it good or bad. In a way it is very similar to poetry. (If you haven't picked Tagore's Gitanjali and wondered about the meaning of life after reading just a few lines, you are missing an experience). So in a world where the food is fast, news is breaking, and peace is ephemeral, art brings about a good change of pace. 

3. Art is a way to express the inexplicable. Presumably, we’ve all experienced moments of transcendence whether on drugs or meditation or during our travels or in near-death experiences. Art, from what I understand is a way to explain that, to express emotions that words cannot.


THE BUSINESS OF ART

Although it doesn't have a lot to do with understanding Art itself, I want to touch upon this issue briefly because this is something which turns people off away from the art world.

A few years ago, when I had absolutely no idea about what art is, I came cross Joan Miro's “Peinture (Etoile Bleue)” which was sold for 37 million dollars. I scoffed at the price since it was something I thought I could paint. It was natural to assume that the art world is delusional or pretentious or both. But during the course of the research for this post I understood something else.

The art market isn't a reflection of who the best painter is. The highest priced painting doesn't mean the best painting. Buying and selling art is a business. And the prices in a business are driven by many other factors than just the quality of the work. If you can't fathom why a certain painting was sold for multi million dollars, that's fine. But, don't let its price discourage you from appreciating it.

Oscar Wilde said it best:

“A work of art is useless as a flower is useless. A flower blossoms for its own joy. We gain a moment of joy by looking at it. That is all that is to be said about our relations to flowers. Of course man may sell the flower, and so make it useful to him, but this has nothing to do with the flower. It is not part of its essence. It is accidental. It is a misuse.”


Conclusion

Abstract art isn't supposed to make you feel a particular way. It is supposed to help you embrace whatever it is that it invokes. 

This 'something' could be different for different people. Great art incites conversations, discussions and conflicts of opinions. Rothko's work inspired me to write this post, so you could say I found inspiration and contemplation in his paintings. Perhaps you could find love, or reflection, or celebration.

If you look at any piece of work and wonder - "I could do that," you are missing the point. Good art is not judged by how difficult it is to make. Or the level of technical skill involved. Or the most skilful execution. And that is why it's subjective. This can be found in other art forms too. Hemingway didn't write the most complicated sentences, but he was a masterful storyteller.

Art may seem unapproachable at times. But if you give it a chance, it can turn out to be deeply personal and enriching.

Thank you for reading. I hope you ascribe positive association to this post in your life. And may that date at the art gallery become an important moment in your story.

Enjoyed the post? Please consider sharing. And let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you are not on the mailing list, you can leave your email address here. You'll receive notification of any new post.

READ NEXT: HOW TO HAVE MORE FUN AT FUN

More resources on Art and Rothko:

The Art of Showing Your Creativity - Advice by Austin Kleon

If you are a creative, take a few moments to consider the following points:

  • You believe your art should speak for itself
  • 'Marketing' and 'promotion' discomfort you
  • You want your work to be discovered by more people
  • You want your art to get the recognition you think it deserves
  • You don't think you have a thick skin to deal with the trolls which come with sharing your work online
  • You want to add value to people's lives through your work
  • While sharing your art, you fear stepping on the wrong side of the fine line between adding value and spamming

As a writer, I associate myself to a lot of the above points. And so do a lot of other creatives. Painters, musicians, photographers, designers, filmmakers travellers, entrepreneurs and many other creatives are going through the same struggle of staying relevant, having their work seen by more people and at the same time maintaining the honesty and integrity in sharing your work.

Addressing these fears and issues, is a great book Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. This is a sort of manifesto of the current times for creatives to share their work the right way. Here are some of my notes from the book with some commentary. Hope you get around to reading the book and find it as useful and relevant as I did.

Note: Excerpts from the book are in italics

 

WHY SHOULD YOU SHARE

Once we start creating, our self-doubt tells us that your work is not good enough or maybe just not relevant to the people. But, more often than not, that's not the case. We grossly underestimate the usefulness of our own work.

To someone, it may be better than you dare to think
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When you share ideas, sometimes conversations start around it. That is your contribution in this world. Give what you have, don't be a hoarder.

Scenius - Not all of us are geniuses. But, we grow with the help of the scene around us. 

Find a scenius, pay attention to what others are sharing, and then start taking note of what they’re not sharing. Be on the lookout for voids that you can fill with your own efforts, no matter how bad they are at first.
She can share her sketches and works-in-progress, post pictures of her studio, or blog about her influences, inspiration, and tools - the thing she really cares about. By, doing this, she can really connect with the people who care about the same things as hers.

The biggest takeaway for me was the simple fact that what you find trivial might actually be very useful for someone else. 

"You can't find your voice until you use it"

Sometimes, we wait for a while to find our own voice. But, how would we find it until we've used it in different scenarios? What niche of photography would you like until you start clicking different settings? Not everyone knows for sure as to which format of design they prefer until they try their hands at them. 

Remember:

Work doesn't speak for itsef. Even the renaissance had to be found.

 

WHAT TO SHARE:

''What are you working on?' Stick to that question and you'll be good. Don't show your lunch or latte, show your work.

Before sharing anything, put it through the 'So What' Test. Would people care about what you are showing? 

Turn your flow into stock. Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content your produce that is as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time
— Robin Sloan
Sloan says the magic formula is to maintain your flow while working on your stock in the background.
Your influences are all worth sharing because they clue people in to who you are and what you do - sometimes even more than your own work.

Share your process - this is an obvious yet fantastic piece of advice. A lot of people want to know how you do what you do and it can be very helpful for them. If you are signed up to my mailing list, you would see a direct result of this in my emails. I have started sharing things that inspire me, books I read, music I find therapeutic. By doing this, I hope I can connect with people who might enjoy what I write in my posts. Remember, you don't have to ensure that everyone in the world appreciates your art. You need to find only a handful to form a tribe who supports you when you need help and celebrates your victories. 

 

HOW TO SHARE:

Build Sharing into your routine. 
Don't give in to the pressure to self-edit too much. Don't try to be hip or cool. Being open and honest about what you like is the best way to connect with people who like those things, too. 

People like to hear good stories. Learn how to speak about your work in a manner which evokes emotion. Read books by good authors and notice how they weave stories. 

The cat sat on a mat is not a story. The cat sat on the dog’s mat is a story.
— John le Carre

On Structure:

A good story can be created in the following structure: Once upon a time, there was _______. Every day, ______--. One day, ______. Because of that, _____. Because of that, ______. Until finally, ____________
There's a way to tell open -ended stories, where we acknowledge that we're snack-dab in the middle of a story, and we don't know how it all ends.
The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to others. Share your reading lists. Point to helpful reference materials. Teach what you know. Share your trade secrets.

This is what I aim to achieve with this post.

Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you'll attract people who love that kind of stuff. You want hearts not eyeballs. 
"Compulsive avoidance of embarrassment is a form of suicide." If you spend your lfe avoiding vulnerabiliti, you and your work will never truly connect with other people. Learn to take a punch.
Don't quit your show.
You can't plan on anything; you can only go about your work, as Isak Dinesen wrote, "every day, without hope or despair." You can't count on success; you can only leave open the possibility for it, and be ready to jump on and take the ride when it comes for you.

How much of this would you be willing to use? I'd love to hear your opinions, suggestions and questions. Drop in an email or write in the comments below. 

And as Kleon says, Credit is always due, so a hat tip to BrainPickings which has been a major source of inspiration for this post's format. 

Inspiration and Getting Things Done

There have been times, which quite honestly come way too often, when I have felt uninspired and not wanted to do anything for a long time. I have procrastinated, produced work below my standards of quality and hence have been miserable. On the other hand, there also have been times when I felt a flow, was inspired and thought about something deeply and produced the best work that I can.

Obviously, we all want to maximise the latter and do away with the former. But, for this I do not want to rely on factors that are out of my control. Hence, I’ve found myself a few actionable items, hacks if you please, which have helped me stay more in the inspired zone and allowed me to produce good, meaningful work that I can be proud of. This post is about those things and I hope some of these are useful to you too.

Inspiration, for me, is something that drives me to create, to do and sometimes even consume. A good book inspires me to write stories and pen down my thoughts as well as inspiring me to pick up another good book to read. Inspiration moves you to act, it pulls you away from inaction. It instills a sense of optimism as if everything that you desire is in your reach and shows you a clear path to achieve those. But, where does it come from?

A good book, obviously. A moving speech, a thought provoking movie or a good conversation. But, apart from these external factors, I believe our own thoughts are our biggest sources of inspiration. Don’t we all know how our best ideas have a habit of arriving to us in the shower? But, how do we tap into this source?

The best way is to put yourself into those positions. I am not talking about the long walks, showers, long bike rides kind of thing. I mean a step after that. Start recording during that time. I am deeply influenced by and believe in a brilliant TED talk says that how the inspiration fairy grabs you and you have to act in that moment or else that fairy will move on to the next available, better prepared seeker. Keep a notebook at hand, record a voice message to self on your phone, tell a friend. Once these inspirations are recorded, you can work on them at a later time.

But, there are times when even after knowing all this stuff, you can’t act on it. What to do then? Don’t we all have a few brilliant ideas in our heads but nothing to show it for. Try these:

1. Change things
Our mind gets bored with repetitive things and seeks constant change (an oxymoron, I know). Whether it be in foods we eat, things we do, our hobbies or even our relationships. But, the irony is when we do seek out changes, it resists. Mind is a weird creature, seeking change but resisting when the moment to change comes along. Come over that resistance and change something. Move to a different location to work or change your posture or use a standing desk. Change helps to bring fresh perspectives and hopefully it can drive you back into flow.

2. Just get started
Starting up something is the biggest step and requires the most effort. At times, I write random stuff just to get started. Sometimes I even write about the fact that I don’t have anything to write about. But, after substantial number of minutes have passed with me putting pen to paper, something good starts to emerge. And it has served me well in other activities as well.

3. Get a good tool
An instrument or the tools of a trade/skill are very important for the kind or even the amount (and maybe thus the quality) of work produced. It is easy to say that a good artist excels irrespective of the environment she lives in. But, there is no harm in using all the help that you can get. I have not been much of a snob about it though - I still use a worn out Dell which heats up after 10 minutes of usage which also happens to be the amount of time it takes to boot up. But recently, I got a beautiful notebook and a Staedtler as a gift and I bought myself a writing desk. They make me want to use them. Beautiful tools call out to you. They want to serve the purpose they were built for and thus help you get into a flow.

4. Keep your personal and work tools separate
This is to ensure that there is no context creep between the two and it lets you focus on each thing separately. I have set up my personal, albeit slower laptop for personal projects and I keep my office laptop just for that - office work. It lets me be more involved in my day job and allows me more time or atleast a perception of more time for personal work.

What to do after you are inspired and have recorded your thoughts? Elaborate, even when you are not in the flow. Neil Gaiman once said that if you write only when you are inspired, you can be a good poet at best. But, to be a great novelist, you have to slog it out through drudgery even when you are not inspired. You have to put in those extra hours, one word after another and hope that you can get into a flow.

Related watch - Jack White on Inspiration

First drafts are always crappy

Recently, some of my friends were fretting about the brand new redesign of their website. They were comparing it to Musicfellas and thought that theirs wasn’t good (which in opinion was actually way too good for the first version). It caused them grief and a little sadness. They were anxious. What they had forgotten was that they were comparing something which was a result of over 6 months of painstakingly discussing and sometimes even fighting over the minutest of details with something which was put out in a few days.

It’s not just them. I had been procrastinating on writing a short article for a friend’s blog for quite some time myself. I had a fear of imperfection. I didn’t realise one key point - first drafts are always crappy.

Things improve over time:

We don’t see how many pages a writer has torn apart to produce that great novel.

We don’t see the many erroneous brush strokes behind that final masterpiece.

We don’t see the multiple wrong notes before that final perfect one which makes a genius piece of music.

We don’t see the many changes in the color, size or placement of a button on a website before the final version.

And this can be overwhelming, depressing and a lot of times demotivating.  

Biz Stone, Twitter Co-Founder, once famously said: “Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success." Overnight success stories and get famous/rich/better quick is what we want. But, we forget that the people who seem be able to do that, have achieved it over a period of time. 

At Musicfellas, we didn’t get great (that’s what people have said) at design from the day one. Our first versions were almost embarrassing. It took us time, patience and constant perseverance to achieve what we did.

So, if you feel like you are creating less than awesome stuff to start with, realise that it is natural. You are already way ahead of so many people who haven’t even started something. You are in the top 1% of creators (completely made up stat). For you to achieve perfection, it is completely OK to take time.

Be aware that beautiful things, and the best ones at that, emerge incrementally.

Added bonus: Have a look at some of the earliest versions of the most popular websites in the world and see how they have evolved and gotten better with time: Wayback Machine.

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Appreciate your time. Thanks!

Fear of imperfection

Ever since I last wrote, I’ve been trying hard to write something and publish it for people to see but haven’t been able to because of a fear of imperfection in what I write. Actually, it happens a lot. I like to believe I am a perfectionist, not that I am, but I’d like to believe so. Or atleast that I am striving towards it. A fear of producing something perfect was preventing me from doing something which is good. 

In the last week, I drafted a lot of articles on many different ideas but I just couldn’t publish them. I wrote on things which were important to me, which moved me but I wasn’t happy with what I had written. I knew it could have been better. 

The definition of perfect here is something that I feel proud of producing, I feel good about and could be at peace with. Although, we all do stuff seeking an acknowledgement of the world around us or of ourselves, it eventually comes down how that makes us feel. It gives us a feeling of being able to create something, of adding value, of playing our part in this entirely meaningless, long drawn out game of life that someone is enjoying at our behest. If we are characters in a game, we might as well have fun while doing it. 

I recently read the book The Spy who came in from the Cold by John le Carre (great spy novel, completely different from what you would expect in a spy mystery) which propelled the author into stardom. The author later reflects that his life of comfort was now over. Anything that he ever produces again would always be pried and judged upon by eyes of the world. The activity that brought him joy had suddenly lost its innocence.

I am not sure that how he was able to deal with it but I am trying to internalise it. Instead of waiting for the end product, I want to enjoy the process, every moment of writing, whether I publish it or not is a different matter altogether. And if I do decide to publish it, it is fine if it is crappy. Things get better with time. 

After all, what bothers us the most, what keeps us await at night are not the things that we did but we wish we could have done. 

How do you guys deal with, if it exists, your struggle for perfection? (I also realised, leaving a blog post with a question is a good way to end when you don’t know how to end it).

Did you like what you read so far? You can subscribe to my mailing list to get updates on new posts. I am not sure how frequently I’ll send you an email but it will never be more often than once a week. 
Appreciate your time. Thanks!