In week six of The Artist's Way, Recovering a Sense of Abundance, Julia Cameron focusses on our relationship with luxury and limitation.
It is a fascinating theme to explore. All about that strange and difficult relationship many of us have with ideas around wealth, money, and materialism. It looks at the ingrained messages we have built into our lives about who we are and what we feel we deserve.
There is a difference between 'Fake Luxury' (a judgement we place on others). And 'True Luxury' (a freedom we grant ourselves).
Our Relationship With The Idea of Luxury
We often think of Luxury as something other people enjoy. Not us.
"Oh I wish I had the luxury of a lie in" or "if only I had the luxury of a four bedroom house".
In this sense, luxury becomes a foundation for dissatisfaction, envy, and even resentment. Luxury is an external; enjoyed by others. It is lavish and extravagant. Beyond what we can ever possibly have for ourselves.
But as we explore in this month's podcast, true luxury is something to which we ALL have access.
Luxury of Introversion and Sensitivity
As self-awareness and understanding increases, there is a transition which I see over time with people I work alongside. In the early days, there's a sense that something is lacking. A kind of poverty, where to them, it feels like they are missing something that others have.
We might look at extroverts and wish we had the luxury of their confidence or approach to life or whatever. Then, over time it starts to become evident that the luxury isn't in the external appearance, but it's found on the inside.
True luxury is in the self-awareness and the ability of a self-aware person to better manage their natural preferences and tendencies, rather than resenting, and working against them. As we learn more about introversion and sensitivity, we step into a place of luxury.
No longer do we need to feel alone, weird, or like we are lacking something. There are many of us, we are weirdly normal, and we are enough. We have enough. We are equipped to learn what we need in order to thrive.
Dropping A Wet Blanket On Other People
Julia Cameron talks about a formidable artist friend of hers, who has disappeared into 'Wet Blanket Mode'. When she told him about the horse she bought, he responded by saying, “well, I hope you don’t expect to get to ride it much or even see it much. As you get older, you do less and less of the things you enjoy. Life becomes more and more about doing what you must….”
You can probably recognise that kind of mentality. Maybe someone specific comes to mind. A particular situation. Where your excitement about something new was brought to a crashing halt by someone who projected all their own dissatisfaction onto you. Julia Cameron continues...
"Although not yet fifty, he has already been singled out for lifetime achievement awards. Nonetheless, this is an artist suffering in the throes of artistic anorexia. Although he continues to work, he does so at greater and greater cost to himself.
Why, he sometimes wonders to himself, does his life’s work now feel so much like his life’s work?
Why? Because he has denied himself luxury. Let me be clear that the luxury I am talking about here has nothing to do with penthouse views, designer clothes, zippy foreign sports cars, or first-class travel. This man enjoys all those privileges, but what he doesn’t enjoy is his life.
He has denied himself the luxury of time: time with friends, time with family, above all, time to himself with no agendas of preternatural accomplishment. His many former passions have dwindled to mere interests; he is too busy to enjoy pastimes.
He tells himself he has no time to pass. The clock is ticking and he is using it to get famous. "
The Luxury of Time
These stories don't just apply to artists or creative types. We're all susceptible to this kind of messaging about the things that matter most to us.