In the sixth chapter of The Artisan Soul, McManus argues that we are each given a certain amount of canvas, symbolic for creative capacity, and that it is up to us to decide how we will use it. I appreciate the metaphor, and his argument.
“The perceived limitation is the medium, but the actual limitation is the artist. Everyone begins with the same material; it’s what we do with the material that matters.,” (149). McManus goes into detail to describe this, examining the 12 notes musicians have to work with, the three shapes architects have at their tool-belt, the five flavors chef’s have to cook with, the three colors artists have to use, etc. However, he notes that you can create infinite combinations within each of these fields. I love this thought because it is extremely true. Cookies share the majority of their ingredients with bread, but most breads taste vastly different (and inferior) to most cookies. Ariana Grande has the same notes to work with as does Hozier, but her music always comes out vastly inferior to his. Roger Federer could still win a grand slam with a $20 racket, though he would obviously prefer his $300 racket. It’s the utilization of the canvas that is important, that defines the artist, not the canvas itself.
Next, McManus uses another cliche to express a deep truth. “We aren’t limited because we have limitations; we are limited because we haven’t embraced them,” (149). A bad cook can bastardize great ingredients into a disgusting meal while a great chef can turn less than average ingredients into a stellar masterpiece that tastes even better than it looks. We have a tendency to complain about our situation, rather than make the most of it. If people changed their attitude more often, there would be far fewer complaints and far more results. Embrace your situation, find a silver lining and make the most of what you’re given.
I kind of got lost in the middle of the chapter, but I did enjoy the ending, talking about how we’re all working towards a common goal, whether we realize it or not and whatever form it takes shape in. “Well-being is not a journey toward perfection, but a journey toward wholeness,” (167). While I do get tired of McManus speaking in cliches, this one is very true. Too often, people are delusional about wanting a perfect life, without realizing that the life they have is perfect in its own perplexing funny way. To quote J. Cole, “Ain’t no such thing as a life that’s better than yourz.” God has given you the canvas. Make of it what you will.