The Virtue Trap

“…For an artist, virtue can be deadly. The urge toward respectability and maturity can be stultifying, even fatal.

“We strive to be good, to be nice, to be helpful, to be unselfish. We want to be generous, of service, of the world. But what we really want is to be left alone. When we can’t get others to leave us alone, we eventually abandon ourselves. To others, we may look like we’re there. We may act like we’re there. But our true self has gone to ground.

“What’s left is a shell of our whole self. It stays because it is caught. Like a listless circus animal prodded into performing, it does its tricks. It goes through its routine. It earns its applause. But all of the hoopla falls on deaf ears. We are dead to it. Our artist is not merely out of sorts. Our artist has checked out. Our life is now an out-of-body experience. We’re gone. A clinician might call it disassociating. I call it leaving the scene of the crime.”

— Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way (Week 5)

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