You came into being for some reason. This is not a creationism vs. evolution conversation, I’m not going there, not even touching it. This is a stream of consciousness about how we learn, experience life and the world around us. For better or worse I spend a fair bit of time thinking about this, and I will continue to do so. I hope you have and do too.
The idea is this; in order to know about what you’re made of, what you are capable of, what the world surrounding you and within you is made of. How it interacts and reacts with itself. You have to get your hands dirty. This all may be obvious, but beneath the obvious there is always more to be revealed.
There’s this idea that the main goal is the end product. It’s an important part but I keep settling into this idea of process and practice. That the whole experience is much more enjoyable, and even more effective when the focus is on, and in the process. Projects are started and finished but it’s the process and the practice that holds it all together. It’s a subtle difference in perception but the effects of this adjustment are life affirming and huge.
“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” Stephen Pressfield- The War of Art
Let go of any concerns over what art is, or isn’t. I have seen enough argument over the classification of creative results to believe that this is not important to the maker and can be divisive to the community. It’s a burden, and a boundary, that defeats the whole point of what art is really supposed to do. To take you somewhere you’ve never been before. This is not to say that history and tradition should be dismissed or ignored, I strongly believe in getting as familiar as possible with tradition and historical progression so you know exactly what rules to focus on breaking and how to accomplish that. As well as being well aware of what has been done so you don’t go around thinking you invented things that were already being explored 100 years ago.
Your best work is your best work. Period. If you have something to express then do that. If you wish to focus on and refine technique do that. If you feel the urge to go wild Jackson Pollock style, there you go. That obviously worked for him. He got wasted and put all of himself into his work in a reckless but very emotional way. Somehow people knew. I am not advocating the whole self-destructive process or need for mind altering substance to find your muse. I just see provocative, interesting and beautiful work come from people who get personal with the process and stay open to life in general. Generally trying or at least learning about things outside of your usual will enrich your perspective and ease your feelings of attachment to a singular source of creative stimulation. I think of it as creative cross training… Let the muscles mend on an off day and stretch instead.
Dig in and see where it goes. Sometimes the material/medium runs the show and teaches you. Kids don’t even know what paint does at first, so they start there, getting to know the properties. Then they answer back by using what they have learned to create something directed by them. This cycle continues in our lives with everything we do.
I understand the politics of the art community, and the real world aspect of career artists. I understand that there are a lot of people making things, many have sacrificed to work up to a high skill level and deserve recognition for doing so. It’s a living, there’s ego and reputation at stake, this gets connected with livelihood and survival and it gets fierce. We’re fighting for our life here!! The paradox is in what that can do to you as a person and eventually to your work. It also tends to be exclusive to people who might be timid about getting creative. It’s for everyone is all I’m saying and accolades and achievements are awesome and important even. But in the end the process is what remains constant. Everything we do has a creative element. Everything. We were created to create, observe, experience, create and so on… This is the fringe of my existential perception for now. I’m satisfied with it. I make things for a living but in the interest of being open, I see the benefit of pulling back from thinking that what I make, is who I am. It is one of the many ways to experience what I am.
“Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.” Stephen Pressfield – The War of Art
FYI I really like this book.
What I am is a human being, learning about what it means to grow into this place and send the ripples that I wish to send. Regardless of what your spiritual/religious beliefs are, can you argue that after you’re gone, the things you did with your life will resonate through time? If nothing else, that is what should guide us I think. Pay it forward in the best way you know how.
I realized that the only thing I can successfully strive for is a flow. There is no end or escape, everything changes constantly. That’s the only thing you can know for sure. So in order to flow smoothly, we need balance, strength and reason. This means a holistic approach to life. If you draw everything from one source, you’re going to become deficient somehow, you’re going to miss out on some real powerful realizations and experiences. If you identify with being a____. That might carry with it some boundaries and limitations to finding true balance.
Ideally we find ourselves in the flow, in this process, learning and not caught up with envious comparison, with fitting in or living up to a label. We are aware that being involved in the process is all that matters. This seems healthy. It takes daily practice to let go of being a _____. But it feels so nice to just be here, taking it in. This is rational, scientific even. To come to your own conclusions through your own personal experiences. The world around you, the people in it, plus your powers of reason and insight, form the best most honest and revealing teacher you will ever know. With discernment and without discrimination.
Human beings and all other forms of life, on a round blue-green orb hurling through space. Created to create, to nurture, learn, share and collect experience for the infinite memory. It doesn’t need an end goal when the aim is in the process.