I’ve been thinking and mulling NON-STOP lately about heady art things – what is an artist? am I really allowed to be one? does my art matter? what if nobody hears it? if a tree falls in the forest…you get the picture.
The distance I feel compelled to keep from my first family has left me adrift. And I’ve found myself looking for new anchors and guideposts.
I’m realizing I’ve spent the last decade or more trying to satisfy two masters…
- Art – specifically my own creative compass, inspiration, and calling
- Family Culture – capitalistic views of achievement, a narrow idea of what life is “supposed” to look like
I’ve been trying to keep a foot planted in both paths—to squeeze and smash my creativity into a shape that might possibly satisfy each standard. As a result, I fear I’ve managed to come up short (or at least a little smushy) all over the place.
Recently, I’ve begun to realize that I can no longer afford to vet my work through the eyes of my family and community of origin. To be honest, I have found this extremely difficult, and fairly heartbreaking. But I’m trying…
So on that note, I thought I’d share some inspiration from February’s Artifice guests on the subject of surrender.
Flavia is such a hero. Hearing her story of leaving war-torn Chile, pursuing music in Brazil, then all across the states…if we’re talking about commitment to art, there’s no better example. I especially love something Flavia said toward the end of our conversation:
Music and art requires a sacredness that we demand in our own selves…I give my heart and I don’t regret it.
Man, that really hit me.
I think she’s exactly right. The narrow-minded among us might tell us that art is something to dabble in, then resurface when it’s time to be serious. And for those people, that may be true. But for those of us with a wandering creative soul—there IS no other path that leads to wholeness.
Art is a sacred path. It’s often paved with heartbreak, too (hello rejection!), but the alternative isn’t any less treacherous. Rather, the “safe” road away from art will inevitably end in tragedy for an artist. Come what may, staking a claim in our artistry is the one and only option.
I believe this most days. I hope one day I’ll find myself in my own version of Flavia’s wisdom-filled shoes, and will feel this in my bones on even the most doubtful days.
Chelsea and I talked about surrender in the art-centered classroom, or practice space. We talked about the power and magic of leaving the whole world at the door when we proceed toward art-making. We learn to summon joy or exuberance or passion from scratch (on cue!) while teaching, rehearsing performing.
We find within ourselves the ability to be present and creative amid all kinds of chaos. Anytime art is attached to a specific timeframe, you’ll see this incredible phenomenon at play. It’s absolutely breathtaking, if you take time to notice it.
So…I’m thinking more about both sorts of surrender—the meta surrender of a life lived artfully across decades, and the day-to-day surrender of art awakened in small moments, amid the hustle and bustle.
And I think I’ll add the surrender of pride, fear…even any particular self-concept. I’m ready to let some of my safety nets go. It could be a bit messy, but I’m ready to try.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what sorts of surrender you’ve experienced, or are headed toward. And I’d love to hear what sorts of fears or constructs hold you back.
Thank you for being here with me in this sacred place.
P.S. Speaking of surrender…have you heard Quicksand yet?