There are many different kinds of challenges in life. Some are the unsought and unwanted kinds, like having to deal with serious illness or injury. Some are the kinds that are dangerous, if not perilous, yet are chosen, such as climbing Mt. Everest or being a participant in Running of the Bulls. There are also chosen challenges that are not dangerous yet can still be quite scary and demanding, like taking an acting class or writing your first novel.
Why do we challenge ourselves? The answers may be as many as the world’s population of more than seven billion people; however, there are some very basic and common ones. Stretching our limits and getting out of our comfort zones are often driven by desirable reasons, such as creating health, improving finances, strengthening self-confidence, achieving happiness, being a better spouse or parent, or having more fun in life. For many, it’s the desire to be creative.
Interestingly, brilliant and creative people are often inspired by external influences, or, in some cases, by reasons that aren’t completely clear. Einstein said that the Theory of Relativity suddenly came to him and wasn’t something he worked out in his mind. Picasso said, “Art washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” Okay, for someone as intelligent as Einstein, it may be true that this theory just came to him, and for an artist as great as Picasso the reasons to be so creative were quite profound.
For me, the desire to be creative has always been a natural drive. As a young boy I loved to draw and write silly poems, but the most natural and gratifying drive was to build. It’s no wonder that I enjoyed a long career building unique and innovative homes. However, after retiring from the building industry, I truly missed the creative process and thought about many different ways to fight off boredom. I could have chosen a number of different yet familiar ways to fill the void, like something that centered around building things and the use of tools. Instead, I chose to challenge myself to do something out of my normal aptitudes and already honed skills. I ultimately decided to write a novel.
Was I frightened? Perhaps not in the same manner as the fear of climbing mountains or running with the bulls, but, nonetheless, it was still fear-based. The fear of starting and not finishing, the fear of writing a novel that no one liked, and even the fear that I, myself, wouldn’t even like it made my new inspiration a true challenge. To me, the best part of challenging myself is self-growth, and like Picasso, to wash away from my soul, the dust of everyday life.