Our False Self is precisely our individual singularity in both its “Aren’t I wonderful! or “Aren’t I terrible!” forms. Both are their own kind of ego trip, and both take the tiny little self far too seriously.*
But art doesn’t seek to create comfort. It creates change And change requires tension.**
Janine Benyus writes of the molecule:
A molecule’s goal in life [,,,] is to fall to the minimum energy level – to relax.^
When it does, it will find a complementary molecule and “snap” together minimising free energy. I want to say that it appears we desire comfort at a molecular level and the False Self is where we find this, even when for some it will mean working long days and sacrificing loved ones in order to achieve because its desirable to the truth they would have to face about themselves.
The True Self provides hospitality of discomfort. It says “You belong here,” but asks that we be more and bring more.
We can overlay this with James Carse’s finite and infinite games. It is more difficult, more uncomfortable to play an infinite game in which we include as many as possible for as long as possible and when these aims are threatened we change the rules. It is dramatic – we don’t know where this will take us next, demanding of us at it is to keep growing and stretching.
On the other hand, the finite game with its exclusivity, its clear goal and its rules is theatrical, that is scripted, and, therefore, comfortable. We know how it will end, sometimes on a daily basis.
As we’re approaching the festival of Christmas, we can note how one of the stories within Christmas fits this pattern of an infinite game. Jesus of Nazerath announces:
Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.^^
It can be read this way: people were being left out of the story – the sick and the sinner – so a rule change was made in the form of Jesus’ arrival to include people once again – repentance can mean realign, get back in the game, back in the story.
Art, when we understand it to be the gift or product from deep within a person, belongs to the infinite story or game:
Choosing to offer only comfort undermines the work of the artist and leader. Ultimately it creates less impact and less hospitality as well.**
This may be a uncomfortable but may you discover there is more to you than you know and more to what you are able to do than you can imagine.
(*From Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond.)
(**From Seth Godin’s The Practice.)
(^From Janine Benyus’ Biomimicry.)