Artist, author, naturalist, animal lover....Ben Zoltak writes about his tribulations in the creative arena, mother nature and family.
This is one of my most successful oil paintings, created many moons ago: The Pathos Avatar
First a few words about why I'm writing this essay...
Today is the first day of autumn and I'm happy to be writing again. I've been researching a new venue to host my art and verbiage and also examining what it takes to get to a new and better place for my specific needs, hence the title of this essay. Still, I'm thankful that Hubpages is around in some form at least, so I can enjoy the immediacy of publishing my words while I look for a new host where I can author work to support my creative endeavors more successfully. I also learned that one of my mentors is retiring from teaching after thirty-two years, and I thought I might honor artist Rob Stolzer by publishing my thoughts on the aforementioned topics.
Drive, discipline, and gratitude are concepts that keep coming up in pursuit of my professional and personal goals, so I thought I'd strike while the iron's hot, and take a closer look at why, today.
Drive and Discipline Look Different for Each Individual, Gratitude Appears Universal
Let's begin with "Drive", what it is and why it matters
Merriam-Webster describes Drive (the transitive verb version applies best to our context here) as per their 5a. definition:
a: to exert inescapable or coercive pressure on : Force driven by his passions
You can find the complete Merriam-Webster definition of Drive here.
Drive is a better way to contemplate the hows and why's of accomplishing your goals at least by my measure, better than inspiration (comes and goes) or even motivation (relies on outside forces to push you forward), Drive digs deeper. Drive is an unstoppable force that comes from down deep in your soul. Drive is what keeps you going even when you've been knocked down over and over again. If you're driven, you'll never give up, because drive taps into the main vein of your personal constitution. Essentially drive takes everything you are about, and pushes you forward with all your faculty and agency, with all you've learned from past mistakes and adversity. If you are driven you'll stop at nothing to get what your heart desires, and we all know what the heart wants every second of the day it lets us know one beat at a time.
My goals are going to be different than yours, but you can extrapolate mine and apply them to your own. As a life-long learner, my biggest goal is to continue experimenting creatively while keeping a toe in altruistic service to humankind. This means my drive for art making, writing, and aiding my family and community will never go away because it's what drives me, it's what gets me out of bed in the morning. I take solace in my goals and refer to them often when I'm confronted with adversity and you should too.
Here's another design for a sculpture using recycled materials
Discipline is more tricky than drive, because there's a nuance to it that can quickly turn toxic if you're not careful
Discipline is an idea I've learned to both enjoy and be wary of, because it can be powerful if used discerningly or abused handily by manipulators if you're not careful. As described by Merriam-Webster, again the transitive verb definition suits our context best:
#2 DISCIPLINE: Transitive verb, to train or develop by instruction and exercise, especially in self-control
You can find the complete definition of Discipline here.
When I was a teenager I spent a few months, two different summers, waking up to reveille. Military school? No, the Wisconsin Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) thank you very much. One of the best inventions derived from the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) where I was introduced to the repeated practice of putting forty-five-degree angles on my blankets making my bed every morning immediately after reveille, but also where I learned to become a better steward to our environment as well as learning to honor people from different walks of life. If we're lucky, many of us are introduced to these sorts of values at an early age, and we can carry this ethic into our life goals.
Get Yourself Into Some Self-Control With Sleater-Kinney
All the drive and discipline in the world are meaningless or worse, completely malignant if used for nefarious purposes
However as mentioned above, there is a nuance to discipline that has a malevolent side. At its best, discipline is a practice that you do daily and diligently to achieve a beneficial result by way of honing in on self-control. It can also be a mindless and punitive device used by manipulative narcissists to bend you to whatever toxic aims they may lure you into. Work ethic comes to mind...sometimes we work so hard at trying to achieve our goals that our heads droop and our posture sags and we don't notice that the rug is being lifted out from underneath us because we've gotten caught up in the means instead of keeping our altruistic heart in the forefront. Another example that comes to mind is the danger of casting pearls before swine when it comes to militaristic ventures. As in the case of many worldwide military actions over the millennia. Some soldiers go to war to end suffering, while some war-monger businessmen and servicemen never see action, but instead enjoy a fascist outlook on life, reaping the benefits of their fallen brothers and sisters, and myopically encouraging more violence and suffering with their appetite for profits and mayhem.
This is a concept I've grappled with for many decades, and pictures often speak louder than words. In the oil painting, I created many years ago pictured above, entitled: Pathos Avatar, I was examining these concepts. All the drive and discipline in the world are meaningless or worse, completely malignant if used for nefarious purposes. This leads us to our final concept...
Another Sculpture I've Been Working on For Years ...
May Gratitude Forever Be the Driving Force Behind Your Goal and Endeavors
Gratitude and her equally-pleasant cousin abundance, are two concepts that I didn't know much about when I was younger but have served me well in the second half of my life.
For our final purposes, the Merriam-Webster adjective definition of gratitude - grateful, works best here:
#2 a. affording pleasure or contentment, pleasing. b. pleasing by reason of comfort supplied, or discomfort alleviated
Find the full definition of grateful here.
Once we've learned how we best use discipline that is, how our own personal style dictates which practice works best for us, it's important to keep gratitude cycling through our thought process as we progress towards our goals. Although some with unaddressed mental illness may consider gratitude a weak character trait, those of us who have experienced firsthand the power of thankfulness, know better. People around you can feel it when you're in a state of gratitude, it shines out of your pores and is marked gently by your countenance. Coupled with an outlook that there is enough in this universe for everyone, abundance and gratitude really go hand-in-hand as the most earnest way to achieve our goals in a way that authentically helps our families, our communities, and our own wellness.
Ultimately, being driven is what gets us going, discipline is the living tool that we use to build our lives more strongly, and gratitude is the sight by which we aim our aspirations in the truest way. I hope that you've gained something from my observations here. Like many things in life, we aim to help one another and help ourselves at the same time. We defiantly besmirch our inherent selfishness when we check our motivations and make sure they're kind. We live up to a sterling standard when we balance our lives with caring for ourselves, while also getting beyond our own circumspect desires to come to the aid of our families, friends, and communtites.