Some artistically inclined individuals can stay focused on one project day after day until it is done. Some fearlessly spend hours and weeks on a work in progress in spite of dwindling income. They trust that their creative urges will secure food and shelter. These days I wonder what it takes to have that sort of trust.
My artistic inclinations have always been strong, but my trust that a fully artistic path could support me is not. I have to be honest. I question this a lot these days because everything is pointing in the direction of art, and I think I am resisting this, in the name of that illusory (I should know by now) muse called security.
I think a part of me is stuck in an old survival routine. I keep operating under the assumption that I need structure in order to ensure survival. Yet it is at times of great structure and stability that I’ve felt the weight of separation from artistic expression the most.
There are days when my confidence soars and I could allow for a year to start expanding my artwork. On days when this thought crosses my mind, I fully believe in my ability to not only follow through, but also find great success and even yet unknown opportunities. This is when I should take a first small step, not after pondering the notion so much that I begin to inject doubt and fear into it and no longer believe in the validity of my own dreams.
Something is trying to shift, though. With every drawback, instead of fear or despair, I am beginning to think, “This is an opening. There is free time ahead. I can fill this with art.” Then, the old practical me soon steps in and before long I fill the gap with everything but art. The only reason I do this is habit. There is nothing to stop me otherwise. I am far from wealthy, but I could make it long enough to see where it leads and at least to make progress. Instead, I keep stumbling on a few “what ifs,”
I grew up in a time that valued practicality and being “reasonable.” Of course, the definition of both is man-made, and so are the choices and parameters. For instance, the life-long career model of the corporate world is no longer true, though we are just on the cusp of this change and it is a shaky ride at best. There is much insecurity when an established model morphs into something yet undefined.
Ha! That’s it. Choosing art would be like choosing an undefined path. The only way to define the path is to embark on the journey. Waiting for a predefined path is backward thinking.
I cannot blame anyone or anything outside of me. I have a vision of who I would like to be and what I would like to do, yet I continue to act on the vision of a former version of me.
I took a dive into the unknown once, years ago. I quit my job and gave myself three months to redefine my path. During this time, I fearlessly lived off some savings. My life slowed down and I needed very few things. I read and read and read, and I found myself. It was precisely because I stopped that I was able to see new opportunities. And to this day I refuse to believe that there is such a thing as being too old, or not wearing the right clothes to make it in the world. This is true only when we keep knocking at the door of others who believe it.
Lately, I admit that I do question my surroundings, the conversations of which I partake, their focus and whether I and the few people in my entourage actually uplift each other. I have to say no. Sadly. Our focus has shifted to what does not work in the world, in our town, on our streets, in our work life.
I am the first to complain, mind you, both internally and out loud. And this is part of what is keeping me in the wrong frame of mind to become something else.
I crave something new, or rather I crave room for the full version of me. I crave long hours doing artwork only. I miss working in a gift shop, rearranging displays and deciding on new stock, opening boxes of new arrivals like re-discovered, long-lost treasures. I miss interaction with people in a playful environment.
I have an opportunity right now. One writing contract ends at the end of this week. I have a choice to fill the gap with more of the same or something else. I can choose to give as much room to other areas of creativity as I give to writing. I can choose immediate security or immediate enlargement of my creative musings. That is like saying, “You can choose a greater version of yourself or stay as you are and never find out.”
I feel small sometimes, because I choose small. Choosing big does not come with an instant pay check. I must decide if I can afford it the same way I would decide that I can afford a well overdue vacation.
Yup. I see it all in a somewhat different light now. Thanks for listening.