The Merit In Playing The Long Game
I walk in the Phoenix Park near where I live and I see the trees playing the long game.
The grass and the birds and the sky play the long game.
Our dog, Tilly plays the long game. So do the cats she chases that come into our postage stamp sized back garden.
Human beings don’t play the long game. Not many of us do anyway that’s for sure.
At best we might play a medium-term game but most of us play the short game. Instant gratification is what we are after and by God, we’ll get it no matter the sacrifice.
The pursuit of an easier life, of greater convenience, is a major driving force behind human activity but it eventually becomes destructive.
That’s the reality of all good things, they never last.
We seem to want high quality at low cost, to be fit without sweating, to make money without doing the work.
We want to get stuff and experiences as soon as possible.
The future can’t get here soon enough.
The Insanity Of The Human Experience
I don’t know which is the greater insanity, to be chasing a future that we can never catch or believing that there is such a thing in the first place.
It was about 8 or 9 years ago at a very difficult time in my professional career when it dawned on me that time was a fabrication of the human mind.
That idea prompted an article. That article became very popular and was to become a book but never made it.
Instead, I’ve incorporated The Illusion of Time idea into a chapter in The Artist’s Manifesto, due out in paperback on 2nd April 2018.
Here’s an extract;
In this chapter, we will explore the nature and function of time as it influences the creative mind and why we need to disconnect ourselves from it.
Disconnection from worldly ideas and concepts such as time is essential if we are to access that psychic space which allows us to create original and meaningful things.
In the disconnection from the concept of time, we allow ourselves the mental capacity to create without restriction.
This process happens for some creative people entirely automatically, but for many the time and space to create is difficult to find.
Worldly things like responsibilities, financial demands, family, the day job, TV, social media and so on have the potential to feed the creative muse.
But unchecked they serve as distractions, things that dilute our focus of attention.
Care not for the things of the morrow for the things of the morrow will take care of themselves – Matthew 6:34
In The Artist’s Manifesto, we read that the nature of the creative process is a constant moving between this world of stimulation and the artist’s quiet creative space.
The Artist’s Manifesto does not support the idea that we must obliterate these things that challenge us but rather it suggests we see them for what they are – necessary in limited quantities for the constant creation of the self.
The Artist’s Manifesto recognises that every human being is creative and has the inherent ability to create beautiful things.
However, the pressure to conform to social norms and societal idealistic notions of what valuable work is can keep creative people from ever tapping into their creative side.
For many of us, there is the belief that we are not creative at all. We believe there are far too many important things to do than to entertain ourselves with fanciful notions of actually doing what we love.
This is the predominant idea of what constitutes work, held in the collective psyche of western civilisation.
Time For The Creative
For the creative to work efficiently and effectively, first there must be the understanding that time does not exist.
Playing the long game so to speak is in fact, a recognition that there is no long game, that all there is, is now.
That’s all there will ever be.
When we make, we make not in the future or in the past, but right here and now.
What we made yesterday becomes irrelevant and what we’ll make tomorrow can’t be known because tomorrow will bring that of itself.
Time is a tool in the creative toolbox. We must find a way of making it serve us rather than us serving it.
When we are done with it we must put it away.
Playing the long game is utilising the understanding that instant gratification is the gratification of the surface personality only. It doesn’t serve the soul.
The creative soul wants the gradual experience, not the final result.
In fact, there is no result because there’s no getting this thing done. There’s no end to it.
As soon as I achieve that thing, win that game, receive that award, it’s finished. The nice feeling of accomplishment never lasts.
And that’s the way it should be for what’s the point in existence if there is not a constant development of the self?
In that then there is good even in the things we call bad because tomorrow offers us the ability to turn that around, turn it into something better.
The Artist’s Manifesto
The Artist’s Manifesto is a short book about staying true to our art. It is a call to Artists and Creatives like you to create from the heart with passion and integrity, disregarding the need for applause and recognition. Paperback out 2nd April 2018.
A Final Word
Playing the short game is a fools game.
It prompts us out of fear of loss to make decisions that ultimately don’t serve us. The stock market is an example of where this happens all the time.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a major driver of short-term thinking and rash decision making. God knows I’ve been guilty of it myself.
But there are great advantages to be gained by making poor decisions.
As William Blake said, “The fool who persists in his folly will become wise”.
Sorry, I’ve used that quote way too many times in too many articles. But I like it. It’s accurate I feel.
Finally, let me say this…
For the creative there is no choice, we’ve got to get happy and comfortable where we are. That is the only way we can ever make anything worthwhile.
Eventually, that positive state of mind will benefit us.
Wishing we were somewhere else, continually lamenting our current circumstances or the circumstances of the world only serves to keep us boxed in.
Yes, I understand this may seem counter-intuitive but it is true.
Until we experience it we can’t know it.