We want to feel that we are doing something meaningful. That we are appreciated. That we matter. That we are connected to people that matter to us.
Maybe one day you wake up and wondered what is the point? Why does any of this really matter? I've certainly asked these questions over the years. Finding my own way to these answers had been about listening, journalling, meditating, and following my own inspiration. I noticed over time that I had answered my own question.
I think this is the only meaningful way to come to our answers - to do it ourselves. Can YOU value what you do?
For a lot of years I didn't feel that valuable. Yes, I had roles that I fulfilled, mother, sister, daughter, friend, wife, lover, creative. As my parents and many of siblings have died, the family ties, rituals and routines have fallen away. Without the obligatory Thanksgiving/Christmas get togethers, what is the nature of connection? I can't say those get togethers were fulfilling. They were often strained and didn't result in any meaningful connections.
You know how it is... the turkey needs to get cooked, the salads prepared, the table set, the beverages chilled. Then the guests arrive and it's about making sure everyone has what they need. Then it's the cleaning up and everyone goes home. I drove 12 hours on winter roads for this ?
I was wanting something more. A chance to connect. A moment where someone turned to me and asked "how are you doing? What's going on in your life?" and really listened to what I had to say. This is partly a co-dependent questions. "If only they would pay attention to me." Neediness, for sure. I understand now that this energy of needing something from someone else is also pretty heavy. The expectation on others that they would fulfill something that I needed. They probably had no idea what I needed but could sense a brooding or moodiness that was not appealing.
In some ways the falling away of the obligations has been wonderfully liberating. A peeling back to the essential of what has me feel valuable in my own life.
Through my art, the best learning arena I've found, I have grown. I think we search for the sublime. Art is beautiful and healing, but also it is a manifestation of love, or divinity, or whatever we want to call it. (Excerpt from Bittersweet by Susan Cain.
In reality I don't really 'need' others to come to me and spend that quality conversation. It's nice when it happens, but the neediness has fallen away. Thank goodness. I feel that connections can now come in a more transparent, honest, mutual way, than the way I was seeking them.
Through my art, I'm learning to listen, be still and create from within. I know that sounds kind of whoo whoo. I'm sure you have heard of the concept of the flow state, where you lose track of time and feel immersed in the process of what you are doing. That's what I'm referring to when I say create from within.
Before that flow state can happen the environment and tools need to be arranged in such a way that you can be in the moment of creating.
I read a term this morning... the mediocrity of excellence. Often people who excel are not the most brilliant, the fastest, smartest, funniest, rather they are the ones who show up day in day out doing the small things. Practicing, keeping to the routine of things.
Artists historically have gotten a bad rap for how they live their life. Judgement abounds. Judgement about our business skills, the quality of the work we produce, the subject matter that we represent. I learned a valuable lesson this past year, I was still seeking approval from strangers. There were holes in the way I was holding the efficacy of my work, so the criticism was able to find its way in. Great lesson to learn.
Collecting evidence has become a habit of mine.
I collect things like:
When I can look at my numbers and see that 1) I am making money, 2) I'm showing up and putting in the time 3) I'm painting more = more likely to reach my goals, then I can feel a sense of personal satisfaction and pleasure. I can allow myself to feel good.
With these sets of goals + I can keep to the schedule + I'm making great progress = I feel good about what I'm doing.
This doesn't even take into affect how my art is improving from my time and attention. It's quite amazing.
As I see these images here, tears come to my eyes. To see how far I've come. To feel the energy of my paintings now, moved me to tears, literally.
This feels f*cking amazing. I can honestly say I feel good. I feel valuable. I feel like what I'm contributing is important.
I wish this for you too. I wish for the awareness and time for you to find your way to this self satisfying place, where deep connections can happen, naturally. Where you feel that are so valuable. Bless you on this journey. Please keep going. Your art matters.