Creative independence – advice about life – identity



Creative independence is a good and noble goal to pursue. To perform your job as you deem fit and not as dictated by others, is all well and good. But how does this apply to medical doctors, dentists, police officers, engineers, firefighters and emergency service staff? Writers, actors, philosophers, photographers and so on are part of a group of “workers” who can certainly insist on minimal interference on how they perform their work, but can all workers insist on this?

Another question: The writer or the artist who fights tooth and nail for creative independence, to do what he wants and as he deems fit, every now and then needs a dentist or a doctor, or a nurse or a bank clerk. He expects that these people will perform their work as it is supposed to be done. So then he does not practice what he preaches, or what? And is it not also noble to serve the needs of the community?


What would I say one day when I am old, and someone asks my advice about life? (If I am lucky enough that the person asks me a question for which I have worked out such a nice reply, and they are patient enough to listen to the short speech.)

I will say, three things:

1. Get to know yourself. Ask yourself questions, and consider each possible answer carefully before you accept one. If other people have answers to the questions you ask or if they offer you answers, accept these answers only after you have given them some proper critical consideration and only if you regard the answers as relevant for yourself. Get to know yourself in different situations and in a wide variety of environments. Observe yourself; see where your strengths lie, as well as your weaknesses.

2. Make money. If you can do so without calling someone “boss” and without dancing to someone else’s tune, you will be one of a minority of people who enjoy personal freedom in their work. If you make more money than you need for your basic needs and for whatever makes you happy, that will also be good. It will enable you to enjoy life that much more, and it will enable you to assist others in their struggle for survival. Remember: greed is a lousy trait; be wise with your money; and if you build your self-esteem mainly on the fact that you have money, you are building your house on sand.

3. Knowledge … of your environment, the world outside your immediate field of experience, other societies, other countries, general and specific histories, and so on. Knowledge of psychology, philosophy and other disciplines will also allow you to understand yourself, other people, and the world a little better.


Imagine the following scene: 100 people are gathered in a hall. No names are used. Each person has a set of blank cards with him or her – say about 50 tickets. On these tickets people write statements that define them: descriptions such as, “I have a long nose,” “I have a mole on my forehead,” “I like to tell jokes,” “I love gardening,” and also experiences such as, “I fell of my bicycle when I was twelve and lost my front teeth,” “I travelled through Europe with my parents when I was 17,” “In my mid-twenties I lived in South Korea for two years,” and so on. The cards are then thrown together, and each person is then identified by these statements and experiences. Of course, at least half the people would react if the statement, “I am a man” is read. Many will raise their hands when the statement, “I have protruding ears” is read. Certainly the semi-unique combinations of physical characteristics and descriptions of personality will differentiate one person from another, but will personal experiences prove to be the ultimate unique identifier?


If you do not know what you want to do with your life, what do you do with your life? How do you function? Why do you live as you live, where you live and with whom you live? Why do you do the work you do? Why do you wear the specific clothes you wear?

I am sure there are interesting answers to these questions. Or, most people do in fact have an idea of what they want to do with their lives. If this is the case, I wonder: “What?” And if someone then answers the question, I would still be curious: “Why?”