I recently heard a story about a teaching that the well-known Zen master, Suzuki Roshi shared with one of his students. The teaching was incredibly simple and was contained within a single phrase but the profundity was not lost to the student (nor to me) just because of its simplicity. What he said was, “Just to be alive is enough.” The context of this statement was lost through the re-telling but I honestly don’t think it matters. There is so much power packed inside of this tiny lesson that it’s hard to believe six little words can even hold it.
The idea that the basic act of living is just as important and fulfilling as success or fame or respect is mind-blowing to most of us. We are so conditioned to want to achieve things and to make a name for ourselves that we often feel like failures if we aren’t recognized and acknowledged. Society tells us that we are either stars or we are nothing and that our level of happiness will be reflected by which side we stand on. But Suzuki Roshi shattered this idea to pieces when he shared this nugget of wisdom.
There are many situations that this statement can be applied to but for me, I immediately associated it with creativity. It made me question my motivation as well as my approach to what I do. After all, I believe what he said. I believe it deep in my bones. But most of the time, especially when it comes to my art, I forget. So I have to ask myself, “If I believed that simply being alive was enough, wouldn’t I be more patient with my writer’s block or my stagnant periods?” Wouldn’t I be more focused on my love for the process of expression than on the expectation of results? Wouldn’t I put all of my energy into joy and gratitude instead of desire and self-loathing? One would think so. But we as creative people have such a hard time being content with what is. We are always looking for the next hit of inspiration or the next opportunity for recognition.So many of us are placing our peace and happiness in the unsteady hands of the future instead of placing them at our feet and moving forward with their guidance.