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.