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You Can’t Copy a Revolution

“Art is either plagiarism or revolution.” – Paul Gauguin

When you hear the call of your soul, what in you feels excitement, and what within you feels dread? There is story after story of prophets and mystics trying to refuse the call, because they felt they were not good enough as they were, or they were frightened of the implications for their lives. There are just as many stories of people – artists, musicians, athletes – who have followed that call against all odds.

I know both types of person, and often they are one and the same. When something takes hold -– whether it is a simple idea, a feeling, a wish, or a deep and abiding thirst – denying it only serves to give us pain. Yet this very pain is often the medicine and the teacher for our lives. Resistance has a lot to tell us. It reminds us that a revolution is coming and we need to find ways to prepare. It tells us that a revolution is coming and we may have to drop everything else in order to take a stand. It shows us that a revolution is coming… and our lives are going to change. No wonder we resist. We may even attempt to ignore the call and go back to living lives that are mere copies of what we see reflected around us. We may pretend we didn’t hear. Or we might make some attempts to follow, while still getting caught up in the “why me?” of it all.

Some of us might forget there ever was a call. It came yet was subsumed by the cacophony of sound and emotion that often accompanies life. We did not hear it because the baby was crying, or the dishes needed to be done, or the bills were piling up, or the boss was angry today. Or perhaps it was one of these stories: Perhaps at age seven we felt a stirring within us but had no resources from which to draw. Perhaps at age sixteen we were told that was a silly dream. Perhaps at thirty we were told it was really time to grow up now. Perhaps at sixty, we were told it was too late.

It is never too late. You can’t copy a revolution, you just have to feel the stirrings and decide -– Now! – where you stand. You have to pay attention to how you will move, what you will say, what needs to express itself. And this will change over time, because circumstances will change. Our training will alter us. Following the call will change something within. And yes, tragedy is always ready to strike, and the laundry always does need to be done, but that does not stop the revolution. The drums are ever beating in your heart, once the call has come.

Can you hear them?

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