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Balancing the Mystical and the Material

Updated: Mar 19

In her book, Just Kids, Patti Smith penned these beautiful words,

“The artist seeks contact with his intuitive sense of the gods, but in order to create his work, he cannot stay in this seductive and incorporeal realm. He must return to the material world in order to do his work. It’s the artist’s responsibility to balance mystical communication and the labor of creation.”

I haven’t read the book yet, but when I came across this quote recently it stopped me in my tracks.


Because I’ve experienced, am experiencing, exactly what she speaks about with those insightful words. For years I’ve done this, and for the longest time it caused me a lot of frustration and anxiety. I would fall deep into that sacred place where creativity flows so naturally, freely, and in great abundance. It’s a place you don’t want to leave, and the desire to spend the rest of eternity basking in it’s power and beauty is overwhelming.

But the painful reality is that one cannot remain in the “incorporeal realm” and still bring its goodness into the world, something which the world desperately needs. I believe this is the mission of the arts; to bring the intangible into the tangible, those things that inspire and energize our spirits in ways position and possessions can never do.

Balancing these two realms is the challenge, and it’s not always an easy task. At least not for me, because I’ve hit the same walls many times over, and I now realize that the reason why is because I’ve struggled balancing my connection between “the source” and tangible reality. Of course, I’m not the only person who has dealt with this. Untold millions have dealt with this throughout the years. Perhaps you have done so yourself.

Side thought:

Maybe this is one reason why artists (no matter the type) have historically struggled to survive financially, not to mention mentally. The world (meaning all the humans) need the arts, yet they’re seldom valued economically.

“Get a real job” is a phrase creatives have heard through the ages, as if there is such a thing as a “real” job in the first place. The arts are revered, desired, and even craved, but the biggest challenge for ones who walk the line between the mystical and the material, is to simply clothe and feed themselves in a world that values every other form of prosperity over that which brings riches to our souls.

But I digress.

I’ve gotten better at this balancing act. I’ve learned what keys open the gates to creativity and life-giving inspiration, and how to bring it into the material world. The cool thing is that we each forge our own keys to the gates, and this is only done through the consistent practice of your craft. The more you are in that place of flow, the more you recognize the path you took to get there. If you do it enough, stay with it, stay in it, and don’t let up, you’ll be able to tap into it whenever you need to do so. The ease with which you do it may vary, but your keys will always open the gates. Writes block falls by the way side, inspiration for your paint brush, songs, or whatever form your creativity takes, will no know bounds.

It’s there, I promise you it is there.

The veil is thin, and is meant to be passed through by you.

Yes, you.


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