I am writing this as a love letter to all those in my life who have ever felt plagued by the creative force within them. To the outside world, creativity can appear to be a gift, tantamount to an incredible new hobby that went very, very right. It can even be seen as a mindless pastime, generating so much financial abundance and critical acclaim that the artist simply had no choice but to blissfully follow its gentle call.
If this was your experience, by all means, stop reading this right now…because unlike the rest of us, you in no way require its humble message.
For many of us, however, the artist’s journey has been a far more tumultuous one. It has often been riddled with doubt, rejection, and never ending hurdles that even our enemies would not encourage us to continually withstand. Like the first two pieces in the puzzle of a life where nothing ever seemed to feel quite like it fit, the act of creating attaches itself to the human heart like the only correct answer in a sea of mistakes. Two pieces, perfectly created for one another. Call it love or fate or destiny or home, it is a feeling one never forgets. Moreover, is a sensation one rarely relinquishes without a great deal of difficulty in the uncommon life of the artisan soul…
Two perfect puzzle pieces…and then suddenly, the rest. A million piece puzzle left to carve all on our own. The more original it will be, the less guidance we need pursue. We are suddenly alone in an ocean of questions. It is the blankest of slates with so very little supporting us, our path, the dream, the way, or anything having to do with this “one off” invisible high. We are on our knees at the door of faith itself. On the other side lies only fog and blur. In between our fingers and toes lies every doubt, trepidation, and an unmistakable, unshakable sense of fear.
Yet for the artists most people know, we have still walked into that unknown. We have chosen, time and again, to walk head first into discomfort, questioning, rejection, and unconventionality. We choose risk, and a poor one at that…because to listen to the Soul’s call is to understand that its reward often ends at the choice to move forward at all. There are no guarantees, yet we take that step. There is no structure to support us…only that which we learn to create for ourselves.
If any of what I have written above resonates with you, Dear Ones, please know that you have never walked this path alone. It's just that you couldn't see the rest of us in the parallel fog we each traverse. Yet, all the while, we have walked beside you. In fact, we walk through that very same door every day…this door with two faces of faith and of doubt; each begging only one question. What will be you choose today?
The voice we choose is everything to the artist. We would like to think the ultimate goal is that of creation, but in fact, it is this first selection that encompasses our greatest creation of all. And although I will write about the endless facets of this belief many times in the future, there is something I was called to specifically write about today:
The Gift of Structure
In an arena where there are absolutely no absolutes whatsoever, it is up to us to create the daily structure we need to support our work as creators. We must set our alarms, wake up, set up, and even set the often imaginary deadlines that can get us into the flow that can create a life from the love for art we possess. We must do these things until we reach completion…even though nothing is ever truly complete. Until we claim re-invention…even though nothing is ever completely new. Until we seek reconciliation…even though, as artists, it is almost impossible to forgive every flaw. Until we experience liberation…for we must set ourselves free from the first step, and every step thereafter, in order to ever reach the next stage in this journey of an artistic life.
We must move. We must begin, proceed with courage, and most importantly, we must finish. Even when it's all wrong. Even when we are discouraged. Even when nobody notices but the dog. We must unfreeze ourselves. And in doing so, the flow of creation becomes Our Way.
We begin to find freedom within the structure for success that we have created. We learn that honoring our process with unwavering perseverance will supply much of the reinforcement we have been searching for from others. We feel righteous in our efforts, our commitment, our deliberation, and our possibility. We realize that we have earned our place within the bastion of our very own dream.
But this can only happen if we create our own systems of support… a way to propel when we feel frozen. A way to stand up tall when the weight of the world pushes down. It is our internal resolution and determination that we must feed. And it is our ability to move, regardless of everything else, that will develop us into the creators we were destined to become…
First photo by Doug Kaligan