For ten days I’m writing about what it really takes to be Highly Creative and whether greater opportunities make for greater Creativity. Yesterday I wrote Collecting Multiple Lives and Points of Reference.
Highly Creative people die wishing they had more life left to solve humanity’s puzzles and mysteries.
I first heard the quote Nobody on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office,’ from a pastor exhorting workaholics in his congregation to spend more time with their families. Paul Tsongas, a former U.S, Senator who dropped dreams of becoming U.S. President to battle lymphoma, first heard it from a lawyer friend. Tsongas wrote in his 1994 book,
an old friend, Arnold Zack, wrote to me in a letter, “No one on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I had spent more time on my business.
This quote may be sweet enough to pull at a politician’s heart, but means little to a physician burning the midnight oil to discover a cure for cancer or a physicist writing the Theory of Everything or a playwright writing the play that will change the way we understand what it means to be human.
Highly Creative people work because if they don’t, their soul dies. They know, at their core, what they were meant to do with their time on Earth. They cannot fully live without the work they love. Historian David McCullough said,
Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.
Real success is what Creativity scholar Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi calls full-blast living. Highly Creative people love their children and spend time with loved ones. But there is no such thing as balance between their life and their work. Seeking such balance would be like wanting to balance life and food. Highly Creative people eat, sleep, drink water and they work. Everything else drops off the edge of their universe.
Vincent van Gogh said,
One must work and dare if one really wants to live.
Swiss Philosopher Henri Frederic Ameil said,
Work while you have the light. You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you.
French writer Francoise de Motteville said,
The true way to render ourselves happy is to love our work and find in it our pleasure.
But I think the Highly Creative Lebanese-American poet Kahlil Gibran said it best. Gibran wrote,
Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
*Painting by Scott Davidson.