Thursday, September 4, 2014

Be That Which You Are

I've been thinking a lot about this post that I want to write, that I've wanted to write for some time to myself when I am lost, to newer artists starting out, to those in comparison-ruts.
Jesus is it SO easy to do, dig yourself that comparison rut and walk the miserable path every day, a sad haggard dog-artist hell-bent on being as ________ as ________ is
as we know
is never going to happen.

It's been a while since I've forgotten my own artistic beauty
because I've got this kid, see and they take so much time and energy that when I get into the studio
I don't give one single fuck about what anyone else has made or sold or blogged about
I just put my sweet little head down and get to work like it's….
well, like it's my job.
Which it actually has been for nearly eight years now.
My beloved job.

That is the first comparison death-knell you hear ringing in a minor key somewhere out there.
The job. 
If you have one working for someone else you've either got so much confidence in the balance of it all that you don't give a rip about what anyone else thinks
or you're feeling like the solution is to someday get out of that 'dead end' and be an Artist.
Capital A. 

Let me just take a second to reminisce about the glory of personal interaction
that being a receptionist gave me.
The warm, soft-lit places I further brightened up with my welcoming smile -
if you know me you KNOW I meant it,
the smile and the greeting.

No matter how much work I did I went home on time
and I was given a pay check no matter how that work was perceived,
no matter how I showed up for it.
Someone else paid me to support other people's dreams.

But before I accepted it I ached about it.
I would actually threaten all kinds of things to my boyfriend at the time
if I couldn't be an Artist.
If I had to stay in this job I'd _______ myself.
Poor guy.
I was really young and really frustrated
and really selfish.
And I thought myself much less than my friends whose music careers were on fire.
I was Less Than.

I think that's where the pain comes from, from the perception of superior and inferior and
our collective inability as constantly evolving creative people to just simply and regularly take a minute to breathe in the beauty of what we just made, regardless of how anyone else received it.
Or didn't.

You can have a day job your entire life and still create a body of work any master would be proud of. You never need to worry about how the bills get paid, so your freedom is vast though your hours logged might be a bit less.

You can be a full-time artist and do the same, or you can squander your hours away not feeling worthy of your situation, self-sabatoge at its finest.

It can feel difficult to create consistently and well and make a living as an artist
but once you've begun doing that (which is a small miracle!!) there are still comparisons to be drawn
if you're into that sort of thing.
There are a million more hoops to demand that you jump through.

Are you human?
Then you've maaaaaaybe compared yourself at one time.
You've looked over at other work and sighed.
Then you've likely sniffed around someone else's Etsy shop 
and wondered how they've managed to craft their work and promote so beautifully that 
they sell out in seconds.

The rough truth is that if you do these things and think you'll use a pre-owned dream
to further your own, the world is cheated of the greatness you've got, the greatness
completely unique to your hand and heart.

Don't waste your time being lazy. Time is the most precious commodity.

What if you smashed all the business models someone else laid out?
What if you took the time to set a new standard?
What if your path was so fresh and bright that you felt like a continent was discovered?

What if you embodied your own brand so fully that they could not be separated, the maker and the made?

What if you meditated on your future art?
What if you took those two hours tonight to sit quietly at your bench/stool/lathe/whatever
until something sang "Make me"
like Patti Labelle?

What if the world were richer with possibility than your tiny mind could conceive?
What if you ended up opening to that which made the universe
and it guided your hands through the process of the most ultra-cosmic brooch/table/belt/song/shoe/mailbox/yoga pose

And what if it all started
because you decided right now to celebrate the current situation,
no matter how awesome or shitty it is?
To say "I am here" with total acceptance and the spirit of an adventurer.
To maybe believe that failure is just a door way
or that mistakes are ways that Mystery softens our hard
in order to help us heal and create?

What if you were enough, you with your meh-ass day job
or your shop where nothing sold at all
or your failing brick and mortar?

What if you decided to own it all and move from this single moment,
listening closely and gently and passionately for the next instruction
from some celestial book?

And what if you took delicious and powerful action
over and over again
until there was momentum
and change?

I ask you these things in the spirit of artistic comraderie
I believe that there is enough ______ for everyone
and I so badly want for you to live out your finest creation
as fearlessly as possible
and with as much wonder as my child talks about the moon
and sun.

I want to make art along-side other thunder-and-wonder-struck souls.

Be that which you are
and make it as magnificent as it could be
day by day,
building a life 
anyone would relish living.



Cat said...

Oh, sister-heart, you keep saying these things... These beautiful things, thoughts that I agree with down to my bone. Thoughts that I forget about, in my heart. Thank you, for sharing, for reminding the world to be a little kinder to itself. You are so much. xo

lynn bowes said...

And that's where the internet is a blessing and a curse, a time suck, a non-authentic way to measure yourself against the work of others, their business models against your own. And more. You are exactly right in this post (welcome back after a little absence!) and I think I need to print this and read it every morning before I finish that last cup.

Kids or no, we can all be torn and pulled by demands on our time but in the end, it's our time and all of those little choices we made and are making determine how our time is spent. Choice and consequence ('Oops, don't wanna make THAT choice again'). Again, you are exactly right in this post. My work is my work and it will never look like yours even tho' I admire it so. My path. My work. Get my butt off Pinterest and elsewhere and do the work.

xox :: lynn

Lizzie Derksen said...

I started school this week. I start another job (a second one) on Monday. I'm already tired and resentful, and a wee bit panicked. I'm taking a creative writing class, and listening to everyone else, my sentences have never sounded so clunky.

So thanks, my lady. I needed to read this. Like Lynn, I probably need to read this every day.

Allisunny S. said...

I love you, my Cat. Xooxox

Allisunny S. said...

Lynn, you hit the nail in the head: inauthentic. Because really all anyone offers is a curated version of themselves, revealing mostly strengths and playing down the things that would make anyone else feel lucky. Nature of the beastie ;) xoxoxox

Allisunny S. said...

Lizzie, your clunk is my best day. Keep going, you are one of my favorite voices out there.

lisa moses said...

I was JUST talking yesterday to my friend/co-worker about this very idea and about how you told me once that you had to love your receptionist job before you could leave it. Those words have stayed with me! I was also talking with Danny yesterday about feeling "stuck." We try to remind ourselves to feel constant gratitude, even for the things and situations we know we want to change.

Thank you for sharing! The timing couldn't be more perfect.


Joanna DeVoe said...

This! LOVE LOVE LOVE & Shared. -xo

Farm and Field said...

Thank you so much for this. I am one of those that works a full time job that I loathe (the work is great! But I deal with a couple of soul-sucking coworkers...) while I try to build and grow my farm, try to make it a larger part of my existence and income. Right now I feel both that it's not happening fast enough, and that it's growing just as it should be.
I am so terribly bothered when I see things on any social media that say, "I wish I had your life."
There's so much wrong with that statement! Making yourself less-than, comparison to only a fraction of a picture, writing off someone else's hard work and choices as happy chance, when you are responsible for making your own (sometimes brutal) choices, doing your own hard work.
Comparison is the death of Joy.

All of this to say, thank you. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for being a lovable, talented, fallible and hard working human.

creative quest said...

Beautiful and so inspiring and perfectly said! Thank you for crafting such a moving piece of writing.

A friend of mine always says ~ 'compare and despair'. I think it's true.

I say ~ I'M IN!

yahoo and yeehaw with an amen hallelujah.

I know that these words are easier to hear now when i am actually in a really good creative groove and so I am making a mental note and going to come back here on days when i need it.

Thank you!

Emily said...

This is the first I have read your blog, and I rarely comment, but I just wanted to thank you for this post. Lovely words and well said. I'm toiling away in a receptionist job, working at the bench whenever I can, and trying to get the gumption to put my work out into the world. Almost ready - but I've been saying that for too long! I think I'll read this again many times!

Lana R. said...

I NEEDED this. I have a day job I cannot stand, yet hard to quit because $. I havent checked in on your blog in a while and this is a huge reminder to me to not spiral out of control in my frustration. My husband and I have been working on renovating an old outbuilding on our property to be a shared workshop space and we have hit a lull due to funding, but oh man, I am ready to start working amongst the lead paint chips and holes in the walls with an extension cord strung all the way from the house for electricity. Must keep the faith. <3

Fionnghuala Doran said...

Thank you... It's just what I needed to read recently. xx