Today I sat down on my bed in frustration and drew a card from my Osho Zen Tarot deck. The card was “Compromise”.
It said: “It is one thing to meet another halfway, to understand a point of view different from our own and work towards a harmony of the opposing forces. It is quite another to ‘cave in’ and betray our own truth. If we look deeply into it, we usually find that we are trying to gain something - whether it’s power or the approval of others. If you are tempted, beware: the rewards of this kind of compromise always leave a bitter taste in the mouth”.
I sat for a while in contemplation of that.
I’m from Belgium, and Belgians are renowned for inventing the "belgian compromise" (aka we get to an agreement where no one is satisfied but everyone is satisfied to know that no one is satisfied). It is reputedly the reason why this small country with 3 national languages and over 1,000 varieties of beer was able to stay (somewhat) unified for 185 years (and counting). I guess when you’re a small country with not much armed power and you’ve been crushed by war twice in the last century because you were squeezed between two big countries at war, it is understandable you would get “cautious”. But I digress...
As kids, we learn to compromise just to survive. After all, our very own survival depends on our guardians good will to feed us and care for us. So we’d better be cute. We’d better find a good balance between yelling for food and being “good enough” to be taken care of. We compromise to get love from our parents, and it works, or we wouldn't be here to talk about it.
Compromise seems like the sensible thing to do in most situations. I makes you safer, avoids potentially destructive conflicts, and gives you more chance to get what you want…right?
I would know, I’ve mastered compromise myself. One subtle way is to make excuses for other people: “Oh, but he’s busy, he must have forgotten”, “She didn’t really mean that, she was just angry”, “It happens”, etc. Usually, I’m all for giving people the benefit of the doubt, even just for the fact that it makes me feel better on a day-to-day basis. But right now I have to pause and think: “Am I really being generous, or am I betraying my truth to try to avoid conflict and get love?”
It could be a never ending mind f*ck to figure that out, obviously. BUT there is one thing that NEVER lies and tells me right away on what side I’m walking: Inspiration.
No matter the amount of reasoning or justifying going on, one thing is certain: if I’m betraying my truth, I will have a very very hard time painting. The one thing that is closest to my heart, my most intimate and raw expression never lies.
Sure, I can pick up a paintbrush and finish a detail or color a bit, anytime. But I don’t like that, it doesn’t feel good, it’s dry and tedious. The magic, the Inspiration, the creativity… only comes when I show up 100%. She won’t bother coming if I’m only half showing up. If I’m compromised by my compromises. Inspiration doesn’t compromise. Magic doesn’t compromise. Grace doesn’t compromise.
Today, I wasn’t able to paint. At all. I had the time, the room, the supplies, everything. But I couldn’t show up 100%. And Inspiration doesn’t have time to waste on half-assers. Sometimes meditating a bit or listening to Beyonce (which is basically the same thing) does the trick. Today, I had to sit down and take the time to acknowledge and love the parts of myself that I had compromised without even being aware of it, and welcome them back in.
That is part of creating too.