“I’m not happy if I’m not creating” ~ Michael Jackson (R.I.P.)
Coincidentally, when I saw this quote the other day, I had just been contemplating this notion. I was feeling very sad the night before, then followed the urge to do some writing and messing around with my photos, basically re-connecting with my Self and the Creative Source. Lo’ and behold my mood changed dramatically, to one of Etheric joy. :). It doesn’t always transpire this profoundly, but I was primed and ready for an internal shift. In my experience it can work the other way around too. If I’m not centered and happy, I can’t create. We’ve all had that experience, where our bad mood is reflected in the things we do (such as the meal we’ve just prepared…and burnt). I spent so many years unbalanced and stifled in my own inability to express myself. I still have an “ebb and flow” that goes on, but now, thankfully, it’s mostly a “flow” in the right direction!
For instance, to date I’ve made 89 posts to my Blog, where I’ve also listed 312 links in 15 categories, and have a whopping 11 subscribers (you know who you are :)); 240 of my photos have been uploaded to my Flickr account; 11 of my videos have been uploaded to my YouTube channel (275 from other sources, selected and put into 6 categories); 582 followers accumulated on Twitter, 1,463 Tweets have been tweeted; and 77 Fans are “Liking” my Facebook Page! Modest numbers by Internet standards, but I am so pleased. 🙂
“Confident people are comfortable with themselves, so others feel comfortable around them” ~ Unknown
Foremost, I love my “audience of one”. I’m my own best company, and if others join in…it’s a BONUS! I like being alone, but I can’t have a party if no one shows up. I think it was Oprah who said, “You make a far better you than a fake someone else”. And I say, when that happens, you respect yourself, and that is attractive to others. The process of self-discovery, in itself, can be very captivating. We are so uniquely…the same! This is one of the reasons I’ve been drawn to watching Oprah all these years and also to watching what I consider to be the best of the reality-type TV shows. My favorites are about people being challenged to create: Top Chef, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance, and American Idol. We are curious animals. All of us want to have personal stories played out in front of us, one way or another. The common thread I like that runs throughout these shows is the message to be yourself, do your best, and not try to please, or copy, anyone else. It is just plain better if you can know who you are, stay authentic, put your whole heart into what you do, connect with your audience and/or environment, and then accept the fact that not everyone is going to “get it” or appreciate what you have to offer…and that is okay…really it is. There will be people who do. And ideally, you will be secure enough to have no regrets, even when rejection comes.
“I’m beautiful in my way, ’cause God makes no mistakes” ~ Lady Gaga
There are as many opinions and interests as there are people, and some are nicer than others about letting you know where they stand. I think it’s so important to encourage others and to provide them feedback, including kind constructive criticism, when we can. At some deep level, we all desire to be “seen”, “heard” and acknowledged. For this reason, I never pass up an opportunity to give someone, even a stranger, an honest compliment, not just about their artistic expressions, but also their admirable qualities, choices, and behaviors. Their faces always light up, even if it’s just in a flash right before they deny it, get self-conscious or embarrassed…or deflect by reciprocating back. I love it when I get an enthusiastic and empowered “Thank You!” in return.
The other big theme of these reality shows is to be open to taking advice or criticism without getting defensive, to listen and learn from feedback (especially from your experienced mentors), and then to decide what you can, want, or need to improve upon to make it more your own, if anything. That final decision is your call, being confidently and humbly true to yourself is key. You gotta “own it” first or no one else will buy it! I suspect that most artists are never 100% satisfied with what they produce, but they MUST continue in the striving, it’s what keeps them alive and moving forward, to the next project. The things we create have so much of ourselves in them, sometimes it’s hard to separate the two. “It is what it is”. And,“You get what you get”. The raw emotion is there for yourself and everyone else to see, and judge. It is a very courageous thing to engage in, to be exposed in this way.
Like others, I have also experienced feelings of disconnected disbelief in the process of creating: “Did I just do that?”; “That picture seemed to paint itself”; or, “That poem seemed to write itself”. Paul McCartney said this very thing about his song “Let It Be” which he apparently wrote in the span of 15 minutes, felt like he “channelled” it. 🙂 We are amazed at what emerges when we connect to the Creative Source and let that Energy flow through us. Being in that space can be very meditative, therapeutic and uplifting, as well as emotional, cathartic and angst-ridden. That polarity is part of its allure. Either way, we have to be careful not to intimidate ourselves into paralysis with expectation, good or bad.
“If God calls you, pick up the damn phone!” ~ Lady Gaga
Ultimately, creative expression is both an investigation of the Self that is our Spirit, our personality, AND the Self that is our Soul, our spark of Divine Oneness. Indeed, one track leads into the other and back again. By tapping into an Energy that is within us yet larger than ourselves, timeless and universal, it becomes easier (in terms of Life AND Art) to overcome ego and surrender our attachment to a desired outcome. Regardless, it really is less of a struggle if we free ourselves and give up the burden of control. I now say to myself, “Be a leaf in the stream and see where the current takes you”. I wasn’t always like that, rather quite the opposite. However, I found that some of my best outcomes evolved from a “mistake”, that when I worked it through, resulted in an improved state, one I could never have planned or imagined (again, Art AND Life!). That made a lasting impression on me.
“To live consciously is to accept the challenge to create, which is to move beyond scripts and bring something new into the world”. ~ Robert Moss
I am SO amazed with those artists who are SO free that they spontaneously feed on that Energy, and partake of its dynamic nature: Improv theatre, musical group jamming, ceremonial single-event sand painting, sculptures made of wet ocean sand or block-ice, street murals made of chalk on sidewalks, or my favorite environmental artist, Andy Goldsworthy, who lets the “ravages” of weather, wind and sea slowly consume the artwork that he’s patiently brought to fruition. I think I could maybe do that, but I’d have to document and record it in some fashion first, so I could hold on to it. 🙂 I am generally a person who gets attached and has a hard time letting go, and saying goodbye….Oy, Transitions! Change! Oh my – It’s ongoing! 🙂
Art has so many lessons for us, and we all have the innate ability to create and express, even when we find ourselves blocked. We are ALL artists. Being human is an art form. We are all about creating…co-creating, pro-creating, re-creating…Look around, everything you see, or sense, is a product of Someone’s or Something’s idea or handiwork. Even other sentient beings (besides Andy :)) have gotten into the act, either intentionally or unintentionally. For examples, see two of my earlier posts: “One of Nature’s Great Artistes” on the Bower Birds of New Guinea (7/26/10) and “Dolphins are Cultural Animals Too” (7/8/10).
Of course it’s nice if we can support ourselves financially with our artwork, but regardless of what we do for a living, we can bring our own flair to whatever we do…like those guys on the sidewalk that hold up signs advertising businesses…some entertain us by dancing, smiling and waving while doing so. Or, there’s the accountant making us laugh with his dry wit; the “stylin” coffee barista sporting an outrageously fun outfit, new hairdo or tattoo; the dad who reads bedtime stories to his kids, in character, complete with all the voices; the widow who delights passersby with her glorious front garden, where she collects flowers, carefully arranging them to brighten her insides, and sharing her excess fruit and veggies with the local Senior Center; the knitter who makes stuffed bears with sweet little faces for AIDS orphans in Africa; or the skilled athlete thrilling his or her fans by making the unbelievably perfect shot. I DO consider all of these to be artistic platforms – one of the many ways in which I’m “liberal” :). Our mission is to find our own expressive niche and then go for it, even if it’s just privately for our “audience of one”, to please ourselves…although, even so, we rarely find ourselves truly alone.
Eventually that passionate Energy permeates from the inside out. The world needs YOU, your art and beauty, your social commentary and positive momentum. Like so many, you can go public by being an activist with your art. Jamie Oliver, and his Food Revolution, is a recent example who has touched me by simply bringing his love of cooking and nutritional education to our shores, especially for children, and has had to overcome one frustrating obstacle after another, but continues to press on. There’s all kinds of things that you can do, or be, or build, that can be shared with others, through volunteering or philanthropy, by starting a non-profit or for-profit business, or by serving a loved one right in your own household. The possibilities are endless. It’s the perspective we have, and the attitude we choose, about how to approach our lives that makes the difference. And part of that is ditching the anxiety, guilt, and fear long enough to hold the belief that YOU are significant. We ALL are significant, deserving of compassion, and can beneficially influence ourselves and others in the smallest of ways. If nothing else, with a hug and a smile. 🙂
Speaking of which, the quiet birth of my modest little blog, “The Spirited Soul” was, and still is, a hugely integral part of my healing journey…towards self-love and self-expression. It is indeed an online oasis for me. Thank you to all who visit me here, and who support me by bearing witness to my progress. I hope I inspire YOUR “Spirited Soul” to meander down Life’s creative avenues, as all of YOU out there in the Universe inspire ME to keep on keepin’ on…Spreading the love and good vibes, far and wide…This is my wishin’! 🙂