Fall is upon us…
And it’s with some potent autumnal vibes that I look back over my conversations with August’s podcast guests. 🍂
As I listen with a bit of calm, a bit of delight, and a bit of melancholy, I’m moved by the way each of my guests speaks about finding meaning in their work.
It’s something that’s so effervescent about art, and so personal. It can feel simple and very mysterious at the same time. Again…kind of like this entire season. Just me? 👀
In any case…this kind of conversation hints back at one of my favorite topics/questions of all…how much “meaning” is intentional, cultivated, executed? Is meaning inspired? What does meaning mean?
My whole brain lights up at Jaclyn’s suggestion that each new project is “a line of inquiry” where she takes curiosity one step further into investigation. She takes this line of inquiry and follows it up with all sorts of actions—paying close attention as she tries things, searching for deeper meaning along the many pathways she investigates.
She starts with a nugget of intention (meaning in nascence), combines it with earnest trial and error, experimentation, play…and sees inspiration almost in retrospect (like “now that’s something”), then refines the work from there, and continues down the newly intentioned path indicated by the most recent discovery.
I love this. It’s so willful and playful at the same time. And it puts to words something I frequently feel in my own creative process.
I’d heard this before, but it struck me in a new way when Landon spoke about the idea that birds sing early in the morning to let their mates know they survived the night, as if to say “I’m still here”—and that maybe humans create via a similar impulse. Art is evidence of vitality, vibrance, even defiance at the darker sides of life, or the smallness of our selves in such a vast universe.
I love this idea because it’s powerful regardless of the “quality” or consumability of the art itself. I’ve always felt this way about art and creation, but this is such a beautiful metaphor with which to express this idea. ANY art, any creation, is meaningful for the simple fact that someone took care to bring it into existence.
Anna followed this same line of thinking as she talked about the “truth telling” of art being “more important than the subjective excellence or skill.” Of course, Anna’s singing and teaching is excellent (as is the singing of so many of her students), but I wholeheartedly agree that to focus on this fact is to miss the point. We work to train our voices (literal or figurative – in any medium) to tell the stories and the truths we need and want to tell.
Working on technical mechanisms in any medium is a means to the much more profound end—again, to have the tools to tell the truths you want to tell. And if you don’t need any particular tools to tell your story, it doesn’t mean any less.
I’ve talked a lot about the purity I experience while creating art. It’s very easy for me to create joyfully, without fear. But, as I’ve expressed in the past, the process of releasing my creations into the world is quite fraught for me.
And as you know, I’m in the thick of a new unveiling now. I’ve been incubating The Hallowed Wide in joyful reverence for well over a year now, and letting this work pass by the eyes and ears of others has a tendency to bring up all of the old things (though I’m very happy to report that it seems a little less volatile a feeling than I’ve experienced in the past).
So, these words of wisdom from my colleagues and friends are coming at a perfect time.
And as we head into autumn…days getting shorter, the world feeling as scary as ever, I’m happy to also remind you of these simple truths. I hope you’ll likewise feel that you can create (whatever, however) as a means of whimsical defiance—sending the message out that you’re still here.
Sending all of the love,