I am a sucker for a metaphor and well, water metaphors? I'm done for. You had me at water.... Currently many of you know I am enthralled with Women Who Run with the Wolves. I just had to share some excerpts that are resonating with me and have done so now for a full week. When I read this it was a reverberating gong! It was just what I needed to read.
The following are from Chapter 10 Clear Water: Nourishing the Creative Life
“Creativity is a shapechanger. One moment it takes this form, the next that. It is like a dazzling spirit who appears to us all, yet is hard to describe for no one agrees on what they saw in that brilliant flash.”
The author talks on about creative endeavors from the obvious, painting, to those tasks which we perform with soul and imbue with creativity such as raising children or nations. “All these are from the Wild Woman, the Rio Abajo Rio, the river beneath the river, which flows and flows into our lives.”
“It is the love of something, having so much love for something-whether a person, a word, an image, an idea, the land, or humanity-that all that can be done with the over-flow is to create. It is not a matter of wanting to, not a singular act of will, one solely must.”
I realized this is so much at the heart of why I do what I do and why I freely share what I do. Many artists worry about their work or ideas being stolen. I myself have worried, and still do, about this sort of thing. When you're an artist your ideas are your merchandise. You can't simply put in a scanning system and hidden cameras and hire a security guard. It's just not that easy. So what needs to change I ask myself.... Myself! is my answer...
I need to change! or I will make myself miserable feeling always victimized, always on guard. If I cannot control it why not let go. Make new work. Move on. If you give into the fear you begin to think everyone's work is looking a little too much like yours. Then you imagine sales being torn away from you, and your mind and ego go wild and you envision being totally forgotten by your clientele in favor of the interloper and then the ensuing poverty and pizza delivery job you'll have to get to survive. You become the jealous lover, ever vigilent of your possession. You become its prisoner.
Or better yet would you lock away your child so it is never kidnapped?! Of course not. So will you become completely freaked out each day until she is home from school? Of course not, you find a balance.
So as artists isn't there a better way to be?! Isn't there some balance there?
If creativity is like the river then it is ever changing, ever rushing on, carving out new places, dragging with it new material from its banks, ever nourishing its banks downstream, being replenished by the rains, etc. I cultivate this sort of thinking in myself. Falling prey to the fear of being ripped off is pollution to my river. It is toxic waste that once allowed to spread like a green acid, pollutes my creativity's headwaters and then I can create nothing. I become barren, stagnant and lost. It happens so fast. I have learned just how fragile my muse is. It is a Prince Rupert's drop. It will withstand so many things but one toxic thought shatters it.
Time in the studio to create is so very, very dear to me. There are times I get so little of it and it is my drug. The smallest toxic thought ruins me for days and sabotages my efforts. This translates immediately into less for sale at shows and therefore less money coming in, less ideas for future workshops, which equals less income and so on. It is a downward spiral that feeds itself. Ruined creative time gives the bad ego Harpy voices ammo, "You never make anything interesting much less good. Forget it, art?! Ha you haven't done anything decent since grad school! And even that was questionable. You'll never make art real galleries will want." And the coups de grace" "Anyone can make this, when will you really make something worthwhile?" etc. The Harpies fly in and crap all over any new piece of jewelry. It take all I have to keep the locked out. Even on a good day I can hear their beating wings on the window panes.
So, do not feel alone! All artists at sometime suffer the voices of doubt. But I take heart and focus on the water metaphor. The waters must be kept clean and cherished. Water can and does nourish us. Be your river's keeper for its effects will be felt far downstream and you cannot possibly imagine what those effects might be.
I jokingly call Robert Tom Bombadil and he sweetly calls me Goldberry the river's daughter.