The illusion of reassurance

In the magical world of Harry Potter, portraits wave back. They are not merely passive images, but animated beings with a semblance of life.

As a kid, I found this idea charming. These portraits seemed better than still photographs. They were closer to the real person than a passive image. However, that is not true. An animated portrait can never replace a real person in the lives of the people who have lost them forever. It is merely a source of false hope.

Paradoxically, the most powerful illusions are the ones that most strongly resemble reality.

When it comes to doing the work we are meant to do – an artistic endeavour or a professional calling, reassurance seems beneficial. But doing our life’s work is a lonely journey. Nobody else can fight our battle for us.

In the words of Steven Pressfield, “Seeking support from friends and family is like having your people gathered around at your deathbed. It’s nice, but when the ship sails, all they can do is stand on the dock waving goodbye.”

Inspiration: The War of Art – Steven Pressfield

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