The Freak out Test

If I were feeling really anxious what would I do? If we would pick up the phone and call six friends, one after another, with the aim of hearing their voices and reassuring ourselves that they still love us, we’re operating hierarchically.  We’re seeking the good opinion of others.

Here’s another test. Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?  If you are alone on a planet a hierarchical structure makes no sense.  There’s no one to impress.  So, if you’d still pursue that activity, congratulations.

If Arnold Schwarzenegger were the last man on earth, he’d still go to the gym.  Stevie Wonder would still pound the piano. The sustenance they get comes from the act itself, not from the impression it makes on others. 

Now: What about ourselves as artists?

If we were freaked out, would we go there first?  If we were the last person on earth, would we still show up at the studio, the rehearsal hall, the laboratory?

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art