It is said that while on the quest for the Holy Grail, King Arthur and the knights of his round table each entered the forest of adventure in different places. They chose the points in the forest that were the darkest, that scared them the most, and that didn’t have a previous path for them to follow.
They didn’t do this as a misplaced show of machismo, or as a competition of manliness. They didn’t do it to prove something to themselves, or to the other knights.
They did this because they knew. They knew that even though they were on a quest in search of the same prize, and they were on that quest together, they still had to walk their own paths. They each had their own lessons to learn.
The same applies to us. We’re all searching for the same thing – our Holy Grail of the Soul – and we must all enter the dark forest of the psyche to find it. Some of us are going to take that journey together, some of us will take it alone, and some won’t take it at all. We each have our own path to walk. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a true adventure of the soul.
As we relentlessly swing our machetes to carve a path through the forest, we’ll uncover fears and experience hardships. We’ll face death and demons, and we’ll gaze into the darkest parts of ourselves. But in the deepest and most terrifying part of that journey, we’ll find the treasure that we seek.
So choose that dark and scary place to start your quest, and I’ll meet you in the woods.
Have you ever had THE moment? I think we all have, at some point in our lives. The moment we observe genius and we’re lifted into action on the wings of inspiration.
It might have been the first time we set our eyes on Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies.” For some of us, it was the first time we heard the angelic voice of Freddie Mercury singing “Somebody to Love.” It could have been the first time we read a poem by Sylvia Plath, the first Steven Spielberg film we watched, or the first time we saw Meryl Streep on the big screen.
Regardless of what the moment looked like, that was your inner artist showing itself.
I’ve had many such moments in my life, but I remember the first time with absolute clarity.
When I was growing up, hockey didn’t appeal to me much. It was very un-Canadian of me, I know. I hated getting up before sunrise in the middle of winter to skate in an arena with ice on the walls. I didn’t like how my feet would be frozen for hours after I took off my skates. I didn’t like how much it hurt when I fell on the hard ice. I decided hockey wasn’t for me.
One night my family was watching hockey on T.V. A guy named Mario Lemieux was playing, and I was instantly hypnotized by him. He was a magician. His stick as his wand, he cast spells no other human could. Every time he stepped onto the ice, he created something from nothing. He made everything look effortless.
To this day, he’s still the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a unicorn. I didn’t understand it then, but I was witnessing genius in motion.
Needless to say, my little heart was inspired. I gave hockey another chance. Suddenly, the arena didn’t seem so cold. The broken bones didn’t take so long to heal. The frozen feet thawed a little quicker.
So why does the witnessing of genius inspire us the way it does?
Art – in all of its forms – comes from a place we’ve forgotten. It comes from the higher realms of the self; it comes from the same place as our souls. We give it many names: heaven, the cosmos, the universe, Valhalla, source, Olympus, and the list goes on. From the moment we’re born, the deepest parts of ourselves call us to return to that place.
This is why a masterpiece inspires us. It gives us a glimpse of the divine; a glimpse of the divine within all of us. For it is only when we see God in another that we come to realize that God is in ourselves. We stop seeing ourselves as separate from the universe around us, and start seeing the cosmos as a part of ourselves.
That is why it lifts our hearts when we express ourselves with creation. Our soul sings when we dance and paint because, for a moment, we are opening ourselves up to the higher realms that we came from. For a moment we remember that we are Gods.
You don’t have to paint the Mona Lisa, or write Romeo and Juliet to find that place. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. The most intimate parts of ourselves don’t care for acclamation or praise. Our souls only long for us to remember who we are; to remember the divine perfection in all of us.
A soul – personified as the artist – is in each of us.
It is why Michelangelo spent over four years painting the Sistine Chapel.
It is why Mario Lemieux spent tens of thousands of hours on frozen ponds.
It is the reason that I write.
Art is the language of our soul and the artist is the one who speaks it. So take some time to create something, big or small. Paint a self portrait, build a tree house, or write a ballad. Take a dance or yoga class. Write a song, or learn an instrument. Find a way to express the soul trapped inside of you. Remind yourself of that feeling you get when you open yourself up to the heavens.
Remind yourself of your own divinity.
Because you are as infinite and as sacred as the stars we look upon.