“Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” This line, made famous by Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II, provides a keen insight for improving our art and our lives.
Too often we wage war with the parts of ourselves we do not like. We want to conquer these perceived weaknesses. Blow them to smithereens, wipe them off the face of our earth.
But what if instead of trying to eradicate our flaws, we made friends with them. Accepted them and invited them in. Embraced them, held them close. Just like meeting a new acquaintance, we’ll begin to learn about these so-called inadequacies. Soon we’ll begin to see the positive aspects of our enemy. In time—as our love and acceptance continues—our foe will soften. It will show its other side. After all, even our most feared enemies are not entirely evil.
One of the enemies of a creative life is fear. We think, “If I wasn’t so scared, I’d go for what I want.” So what if instead of trying to crush your fears, you invite your fear in for a long talk? Sit with it. Ask it why it’s there. Ask it what it is trying to do for you. You might be surprised to find that fear—and a host of other “enemies”—actually has you best interest at heart. It wants to protect you. It doesn’t want to see you suffer or get hurt.
Listen to it. Understand its intention. Thank it for caring. Then walk fear to the door and lovingly wave goodbye as it walks away. Sure, it will stop by for a visit from time to time, but instead of begrudging its arrival, you’ll greet it like an old friend.
Remember, as long as we make war with ourselves, it is impossible to feel entirely at peace. When we are in unrest, our thinking is muddied and we cut ourselves off from the flow of inspiration that guides our work.
Yes, there are some flaws and weaknesses that truly are hindrances. These should be dealt with appropriately. But with some enemies, the best way to get rid of one is to make him a friend.
To your good fortune!