I have been in Indianapolis for the last couple of days. One of my destinations was to Treehouse Yoga so I could meet with Dusty, the owner, who bought several pieces of my artwork. Sometimes it is hard to let go of a painting, but I didn’t feel that way about any of the pieces I left in Dusty’s care. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to know that my work is existing in such a peaceful, loving, accepting environment.
I recently watched a television interview with Sting. He was asked why so many years had passed between albums. He responded with an answer that I related with on a deeply personal level. I cannot find the actual quote so I will paraphrase here; basically what he said was that the lyrics weren’t coming, and that with every song he completes he has a fear that it will be the last song he ever writes.
Treehouse Yoga Studio, Indianapolis, Indiana
Hard to believe that someone as brilliant as Sting can feel that way. I laugh to think that someone might misunderstand me to say that I compare my career to his. Of course I do not, but as a fellow artist I can certainly relate. Each time I finish a painting I have a pang in my soul; sometimes it is barely recognizable. Other times it haunts me, but it happens whenever I sign my name to a piece. I have come to understand that what I am feeling is fear. I too, wonder if I will ever be that creative again.
Over the weekend I watched a science fiction movie that I’d been wanting to see for some time. It wasn’t in the theater terribly long but it starred Will Smith and was co-written by M. Night Shyamalan. The title: After Earth. In the movie (which incidentally, I very much enjoyed despite the reviews) Will Smith and his son are stranded on an uninhabitable Earth and are in desperate need of a beacon so they can signal for help. Between them and the beacon is an alien being who, though blind, can hunt humans by sensing their fear.
There was a speech that Cypher (Smith) made to his son, Kitai, in an attempt to empower him so he could complete his mission to find the beacon. Cypher was reliving a past experience to Kitai of how he overcame his fears. The following is not the entire speech but even so, it’s pretty profound:
Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity, Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed.
I mulled that speech over and over in my head. Of course it is in our nature to be afraid, but allowing fear to control the way we live our lives – allowing ourselves to be disrupted by fear – does not leave us with a very happy and fulfilling life.
It is no secret to those of you who read this blog regularly that I suffer from anxiety, and anxiety feeds on fear. It doesn’t help that I inherited the ‘Worry’ gene from my mother, either. I am constantly exercising my mind to push beyond what I ‘think’ I am capable of, even if the step I’m taking is so miniscule that only I can see it. Progress is progress, right?
…which all leads back to my fears: trying new things, making a fool of myself in public, the dreaded blank piece of watercolor paper or canvas; the inability to create.
What would happen if we all just let go of our inhibitions, not worry about the outcome and just enjoy the present moment? Wouldn’t we lose the fear and instead gain a sense of excitement? Of possibility? One step eventually does lead to another.
The same is true with the stroke of a paintbrush.