14 Comments

Once again, you have published an essay that is strikingly congruent and timely with my own considerations of late. I have been thinking about creativity in the context of building community (which is, in my view, the highest expression of human creativity) and how the survival and sacred dances converge in the experience of living in community.

I also dig the historical context you have given about work as a social phenomenon. The survival dance of communities living close to nature involves a set of moves (hunting, fishing, farming, building) that ultimately synchronize with the rites and rhythms of the sacred dance; art, music and the poetry of devotion spring from that space of bare, essential humanity, where the will to create is the place of communion with God.

Also, historically, it is anomalous for people to do just one 'thing' as their work; the space of collaborative, integrated life-affirming work in/for community (as a basic economic unit) favours the dilettantes, polymaths and autodidacts of this world, whereas the brand-persona ideal favoured by the algorithms (in a consumer-driven economy) means that a creator can only make one sort of thing in order to build an audience and thereby make money out of it.

In that sense, I think that the whole question of work and creativity comes down to valuing the survival moves (dishes, admin, childcare) as intrinsically sacred and aligned with a purpose greater than individual or capital gain. You get that in community-based projects: there is a chance to really appreciate the person who has chopped the wood or cooked the food for everybody, because those little efforts all help to weave the magic of togetherness and allow the space for the sacred dance to emerge collectively.

Thank you so much for this essay!!

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Reading Rick Rubins book currently, quite the gem! Love the perspective on survival vs sacred dance, thanks for sharing. Seems like you have managed to merge the two 😊

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"If we turn to our collective past to understand the origin of work in our lives and how it was never meant to be the primary lens through which we define ourselves, we begin to see the many ways in which we have de-evolved rather than evolved in our self-understanding." mmm. Thank you. Glad to be a new reader here.

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And Swift Deer’s idea of the “survival dance” followed by the “sacred dance” also reminds me of Ram Dass’ idea of “becoming somebody” and then “becoming nobody” (also title of a great documentary about him). It also evokes David Brooks’ book “The Second Mountain”. I think some of us (myself included) have tried to merge those dances & mountains: by trying to orient ourselves towards work that is both meaningful and can help us survive at the same time. A hard combo!

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“Instead of enlightened transcendence, our millennial hustle culture has produced nothing but debt, bullshit jobs, and the ubiquitous risk of burnout.”: POWERFUL! And pretty much sums up the capitalistic problem 💥

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There is something beautiful about more members of the younger millennial and gen-z generations shedding off the old late 20th century mindset of career = self, and coming to the realization that a job/career is simply a means to an end; an adjacent element to our daily lives, and not the defining element. Or as Deer poetically put it - one's survival dance.

A job is a "Do", and Do's must be done. But Do's should not be confused with the "Be", which are all the moments of expressed love, creativity, and joy that we are able to obtain because our Do's are done.

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