On the Artist’s Growth, Consciousness and Feeling Stuck
In New Age and Consciousness circles, there is a strong emphasis on dreaming big, expansion, growth. What does this mean for the artist who feels stuck or tired or uninspired?
That’s a great question. I do believe that the basis of life is expansion, we continue to grow outward and upward in life. And while it’s wonderful that there is this focus on dreaming big (which I fully support), at the same time, if we only focus on growth or achieving the next level, we ignore another very true aspect of our nature: the need for renewal and rest. As a writer, I’m tempted to believe that I should be continually putting forth more work. Finish one project, start the next. Keep moving. How many of us are like this? Sometimes this gets fueled by a fear that if you stop, you won’t start again. Much of it comes from a culture that ties performance to worth.
As artists, we are in this world, not always of it. We naturally move to a different rhythm. This is no different for us in our growth as it is in how we move through our daily work-life. The reality is that we are not meant to be creating and bringing forth new work non-stop. Another reality is that when an artist is not creating, he still remains an artist. So, we’re not going to lose our identity by not painting, writing, performing, etc. We can crush that fear, right here and now.
What if, instead of believing that the pressure to constantly be productive is true, we stop and question it? What if we look at our lives not for quantity, but quality – quality of our daily life, of our emotions, of our presence? And quality of each project, too.
We are meant to live differently and we need to realize that it’s okay to be different. Be in the sense of “being” – how we live. No one is going to give us that permission. We have to claim it. We have to stop wasting time trying to make our lives look more like non-artists, and do what works for us. And that means taking time. So, instead of finishing one project and jumping into the next, what if you were okay with taking three months, six months, a year, even, off? What if you looked at your artistic career in terms of a body of work, whole, complete, and not how much you could generate?
How would that feel?
(If you’re like me, you can already hear those voices judging you, can’t you? Pushing you back toward being like everyone else. Eh, I didn’t say this was easy.)
I know we all have financial reasons to keep working. Yet, aren’t there other jobs you could work if you needed a year off from your art? And if you can’t take a year off, what if you just took a few more days than you had planned before you jump into the next project??
We have been taught that downtime, rest, renewal, doing nothing, not creating, not producing, not having results to show for our time for more than the bare minimum allowed (what, 24 hours off for a funeral, one week a year of vacation, six weeks to deliver and nurture a newborn??), are signs of an inadequate human. It’s a lie we keep believing. We don’t come to this earth to see how much we can make, we come to this earth to see how much we can love. And enjoy.
So much of the deepest growth in consciousness happens in the dark silences, in the quiet times, in the stillness. And we live in a constant state of noise and distraction and energetic stimulation. We need the winters of life. We need life stripped bare, down to the bones, seemingly doing nothing but being present to time and space. We should know by now that what is perceived is not all there is to reality. We see stillness, no results, no tangible return for our time and we do not see that underneath, in that stillness, there is something just as absolutely necessary??
Dreaming big is good. But it is not what defines us. The life of an artist is not linear. The life of an artist is not about productivity, it is about awareness. It is about being present enough (that means more than everybody else is) to perceive what they don’t, and with grace, show it to them. That’s your calling. That’s why you’re here as an artist.
So, if you’re feeling stuck, it may be that you simply need to not be creating right now. It may be that the next project isn’t ready, or that you aren’t ready. It may be that your inner life is more important than how you express it to the world. Like I said, this isn’t easy. It’s actually risky. Because you draw stares and questions and judgment when you follow your own way of being in this world, and god forbid, are happy doing it!! But it is worth it.
We feel stuck most often when others’ expectations go against the grain of our own desires. That’s when we get trapped. We stop and can’t move, because we’re afraid to move in the direction we really want to go out of fear that others won’t like it. But going our own way is the only way to actually go. We need to listen to what our hearts and spirit and body is telling us. We can dream big and still let time for renewal and stillness be part of the whole.
Posted on Sunday, in Inspiration, Internal, Obstacles. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.
Thank you sooooo much for this!!!! You are wonderfully talented with your writing. I feel rejuvenated by this. Great work!
You are so welcome! I’m glad it inspired you.
First off I would like to say superb blog! I
had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your mind prior
to writing. I’ve had difficulty clearing my mind in getting
my ideas out. I truly do take pleasure in writing however
it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be
lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints?
I guess it depends on the type of writing project I’m working on. If it’s a script or novel, my mind is more or less always in it…. listening for what’s next, talking with characters, leaning into the story…so that when I do sit down to write, the flow is usually there. If it’s not, you might try pouring out everything that’s on your mind in 5 minutes of freeform writing… OR set up some kind of ritual that will signal to your brain that it’s time to focus on writing. Some writers light a candle and take deep breaths, some meditate or pray, some imagine setting everything else on their mind “down on the floor” and then feel free to focus. It’s possible, too, that those 10-15 minutes ARE your ritual… and that is how your mind brings the writing into focus.
Deep breaths! Slow, and deep, in, and, out… Whoah. The last paragraph struck me most, at least on this first read.
Yet, 1st, I was struck by what preceeded it. The image I got was one of us as when growing in the womb… We were taking part in our being transformed, in our growth, development, in every area of what would and did make us us…
It seems that we didn’t have to consciously tell each emerging or developing cell, DNA strand, gene, molecule, atom, or subatomic particles identifiable by any human or not, what they had to do, where they belonged or ought to be. We were developing and being developed; being readied for the birthing process; becoming more prepared to live, self-express, to perceive, and to respond further to and with new events and burgeoning abilities (external and internal)…
If you ask me, I’ll tell you that I see babies as reflective of the miraculous within us all. They, we, remind myself of how tremendous things can occur in our lives when we appear to be relatively inactive. That higher force, which, as you seem to imply as being as us, within us, of and through us as we are of and through that amazing power of Love which you tell us we are here to express, be, and enjoy is always at work for, in and through our lives so that we have nothing to prove. We are beautiful just because we are.
I’m remembering being “stuck,” scared, with that whole doe in the headlights thing going on, when I was offered a chance to follow my heart into some places and activities that I yearned for, not for the prestige, but for the sense of doing what would well feed my own soul while sensing the promise that I’d be able to help others find their own ways & means to find a similar joy born of following The Way(s) that seem to most perfectly express who we are; evoking and undergirding that Love.
Right at that point, two things happened:
First, frozen by fear of the vast dichotomies in my perceptions of what felt to be my highest callings and destiny with the ever-looming ominus cloud that seemed so threateningly potent an enemy of my soul (the recalled and replayed voice of my mother, who seemed to live in large part to control me) enough so that I sincerely feared to follow my Spirit, my Soul, terrifed with the unresolved fears of a child who had been criminally and brutally abused by that woman and my father also.
Then, Secondly, I was given a sabbatical (which I then saw only as a life slowing and killing disease, in the mitochondrial encephalomyopathy which seemed to gradually yet quickly be taking this life as I then understood it, away from myself as one with the choices that I’d grown to rely on, as if those choices and my extraordinary uses of them, were what made me strong.
In So Many ways, it was, retrospect tells me, like being removed from Huge amounts of the world outside of myself and being placed in this very different world, where I had to rely on other forces and sources, incl. people other than myself, for things as basic as being fed, toileted, bathed, groomed… It was medically determined to be the end of my life. And, so it was. It was the end of life as I had learned to live it. And, I thought that it was intolerable for me to live feeling so diminished as a person who had long identified my own “who” with how much I did, with how many I had been of obvious help to each day…
Well, I didn’t die as predicted. I didn’t die in body, when I tried to push the prognosis “date of probable termination,” which had been narrowed down to a specific year, by attempting suicide. I didn’t realize that I was Idling: My engine was still running, even if “barely.” And, the power of Love that I believe responsible for my presence on the planet never left me. And, YEARS passed, I producing very little in the way of what I’d have called, “work” w/”enough” tangible projects…
One teleplay, which did get produced; a few books worth of poems, prayers and song… The one artlicle I’d written for a professional Journal, and had read by the members of a professional writers group, where it was unanimously voted in as the one piece of writing read at that meeting to be published as it was. That was The suggestion I got: Publish it/ Send it in. Did I? No! I was still in trauma mode, having literally been brainwashed (an inadequ-ate term for what was basically, mind-control) as my bio-mother had taken me back in to her home, where I was able, despite the classic and sadly effective amounts of brainwashing, to see her abuse with far more objective eyes; and, after being there for 6 months, contemplating suicide, I actually fled for my life after my brother threatened to kill me, and did end up killing my dog (a puppy, given me by my mother to make it tougher for me to get away as a “Totally and Completely Disabled” & “Legally Blind” person “With a Puppy-Dog)!!! For the most part I was NOT outwardly producing material to be, & or that could be published, or otherwise used publicly. Not until I moved into a Seminary Dormitory room, where I began producing sermons and short stories, again being told regularly that I would be “rich and famous,” this time for that type of work. Attending and participating in classes there it was presumed that I would also become a professor, and, again, “rich and famous,” in very different areas related only by a Judeo-Christian/God as Love Believer theme…
Yet, here I am, having since spent 11+yrs of my life in an nursing “home,” where my 1st and only “mouth held and guided pencil” drawing emerged. Remarkably, it was of a human face! I gifted it to my God-daughter. It only took a few hrs. to do at most, it felt good to do!!!!
At this point, I’ve been out of the facility for almost 2 & 1/2 yrs. I’ve been in & out of counseling mainly to address and heal from or Through my PTSD resulting from every year of my childhood, and plenty beyond that in my personal and past Military experiences (not to say that the latter weren’t personal)! And, most of my energy, is expended via overtly physical, as well as cognitive, & emotional tasks of basic surviving. What does that mean for the artist within?
Memory brings me back to s time when I was perhaps 6 yrs old. The setting was a park in NYC where I was on a school outing. Nearby, a television crew was asking children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” A Teacher asked me if I wanted to answer that on television. Disdainfully, I said that I did not, that I thought it absurd to be asking people as young as we what we wanted to be should we live to be adults with career choices, as if any job title could define us as ‘what we were, would or may be.’
The teacher responded, with an, “Oh, come on! Isn’t there something you want to be when you grow up, a nurse, a fireman?” My answer was enough for the teacher to back off in silence: ‘Whatever I do, my hope is that it will be a clear expression if who I am, and that I’ll be satisfied with that.’
Coming back to the topic I began with in responding to the Blog Post, right now, that answer still holds strong. It is vital that I remain true to my deepest callings whether they become linked to a way of bringing in money again Or Not!
Listening to my heart-soul-mind-body- spirit, welcoming those callings from within is key to my living well without waiting for “perfect health” or “ideal circumstances” to do so. I am not what I do, or what I (co-)create. There is no such thing as a solo achievement. We all do and will need one another as we seek to express the Love within via artistic and creative means. How many know of and/or applaud our efforts or results does not define how well we do what we seek to.
Learning the art of gratitude awareness, appreciation for what we and others can and actually do is at least as important as what we produce, even while “idling,” as thought, emotion, sensation move us and the All we Are connected to in ways that Will be part of the yielding process, the sweetness of the fruits born visa vi these seemingly simple and dormant eras of minute or more vast proportions wherein we don’t stop producing, but produce less visibly, Not less importantly, nor with less effects.
As for myself, will seek to more consciously await seeing results and times when I am more able to express the Love which urges us on, trying to appreciate the gifts of being, and being given the chances to express, as a part of healing with alteration of attitudes; accepting and using these gifts recognized as As important as the art produced with a pen, with graceful movements more overt, with music and song which has so many (endless) forms… On, on, on. And, when “off,” actually being in idling mode, where the art has not ceased but become less apparent, readying for another more external expression or series of them when the heart and soul is ready to allow these as yet to be revealed masterpieces
(pieces of The Master/of Love so powerful that no person, no feeling or perceptions, no place or thing, no situation is, can or will be stronger than this, The Source of all forms of art we are granted the healing energy to participate in expressing, enjoying, appreciating, living &/or being).
This is exactly it! Thank you!
You are so welcome!! Blessings to you!