What do we believe?
Why do we believe what we do?
How do these beliefs inform the way we live?
Is it possible to change our beliefs, and if so, how?
It's been a beautiful tapestry of questions and revelations, both communal and personal. What a gift it has been to explore and get uncomfortable with these questions at this time with such an amazing group of artists and educators. I can't deny that as dim as the world can look these days, it's experiences like this that let me know that we're not giving up or giving in to the dark times. Where there is trouble, there is the ability to listen, and where there is listening, there is the possibility to be heard, to be seen, and to move through whatever is blocking our path.
In addition to us asking people outside of our class about their truth, we have also turned these questions inward and asked ourselves these same questions. How can we best use this magnificent life we have been given if we do not once in awhile take a look at what our own truths are?
How often do you ask yourself:
What do I know to be true about myself? My artistic practice?
Why do I believe what I do?
How do these truths and beliefs inform the way I live?
Is it possible to change my beliefs, and if so, how?
We are long overdue to ask ourselves these questions about our own artistic practice. After all, it's not just what we make that matters, it's how we make it. Naming our truth is a powerful way to recognize what we believe and why, and the first step towards building or recommitting to an artistic practice that is not just inspiring but sustainable. And revisiting our truths and beliefs on a regular basis can help us to not become too rigid, complacent, or stuck in a creative rut. The idea is to continue to get to know yourself and your practice again and again. To not apologize for where you are in this moment and at the same time, be open to the idea that your truths can and will shift over time.
I believe that we are not only called to create art, but a life itself that is founded upon creativity, curiosity, and sustainability. The truth is that we must get creative with our creativity and make our life our own. I believe we deserve more as artists and human beings than hustling all the time, for our art and for our self-worth. I believe that there is a middle path, an artistic intersection of freedom and stability to be forged.
I believe these things because I want to know, deep down, that it's not my fate as an artist to push myself so hard for art's sake that I get burned out, sick, and depressed. I've been there before, and I slip into that routine now and then. And I don't want that life. Do you?
These truths and beliefs help to keep my creative compass pointed towards true north, which for me is a daily routine that offers me challenges, comforts, community, and compassion, for myself and others. They are what push me to stay hydrated throughout the day, to take a walk outside when I've been writing at the computer too long, to work towards not over-scheduling, and to keep experimenting with setting aside time for play each day. It's all a big messy work in progress, and I am starting to believe that accepting this weird and wonky process is a big piece of the finding -peace-puzzle.
I believe it is possible to change my beliefs because it's happened many times in the past. I used to believe that I wanted to go to NYC and wait tables and live in a studio with four or five other people and do the whole audition dawn to dusk thing. Then, the pendulum swung the other way and I believed that I wanted as small and practical a creative life as possible. Now? I'm trying to open my eyes to what a middle path might look like.
All in all, I know that change is the constant when it comes to my truth. It's all a hands-on, dive into the pool, full on experiment--the theoretical won't do. It's not enough to know that it's not healthy to take on too many projects, to work alongside toxic "talented" people, and to not properly care for myself physically or emotionally in the process. I often have to make the choices that lead me to feeling poorly that allow me to then learn by experience and make different, more nourishing choices the next time. And in the future? My truth may evolve, it may come into sharper focus, it might look and feel a little different. My prayer for myself is that I don't spend too much time struggling against the tide of changing truths, but that I allow them to come into focus, guide me as long as they can, and release them when it's time, opening myself to what might emerge next.
Ok, your turn. Set a timer for five minutes and answer the four questions above in a journal. Don't censor yourself and don't be hung up on what you "should" believe. No one's going to read it but you, so just write and see what comes out.
And if you're feeling brave? Share a thought or two in the comments. I would love to hear what you're thinking these days about truth, art, and navigating this creative climb. As often is the case, sharing and living our own truth can often give someone else the permission they need to live theirs out loud as well.