What will you do today to shine tomorrow?
Posted By: Lindsay
Do you ever read something with the plan of underlining a few things here or there that stand out? Well that was my plan when I sat down to read chapter 8, “Recovering a Sense of Strength” in Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way. I would say that on the first page alone I underlined more than half of the words. So with pleasure I share with you some of what stood out to me.
All artists must learn the art of surviving loss: loss of hope, loss of face, loss of money, loss of self-belief. In addition to our many gains, we inevitably suffer these losses in an artistic career. Because artistic losses are seldom openly acknowledged or mourned, they become artistic scar tissue that blocks artistic growth. Deemed too painful, too silly, too humiliating to share and so to heal, they become, instead, secret losses. We must remember that what we can handle intellectually far outstrips what we can handle emotionally.
Loss of one sort or other seems to be the common thread through all of life’s experiences. Some times these losses are crushing, sometimes they throw us off our beaten path, and sometimes we barely even notice them. I think that recognizing the losses that occur in our life and making a decision to step in one direction or another is one of the greatest blessings we have in this life and in this country, we inevitably have a “choice” to deal with the loss and move on, or succumb to it and crumble.
I have experienced many artistic losses in my short life, and without fail I will see many more. Along with the artistic losses there will be personal ones that will challenge all notions I have and force me to the edge of a precipice where I can jump or turn back. In this instance the jumping is what will set me free and the turning back is what will keep me where I am.
In life I have found it easier to rise to the personal losses and move on. It is those darn artistic losses that seem so defeating. In the past year I have been trying harder and harder to not fall victim to these artistic losses and give up. I am trying to recognize the losses, grieve them, and move on. As an artist I think it is easy to dwell on what has went wrong and not count all the blessing that have come in our direction.
My husband is one of the greatest teachers on dealing with loss that I have had in my life. He has faced the loss of so much personally in his short life. The loss of time, movement, independence, memory, and so much more. With each step he has grieved the loss and moved on. And it is with the moving on that he shines a little brighter.
Julia Cameron also speaks about how some gains in life can be disguised as a loss. And that every end is a new beginning, so don’t get stuck on the loss. In doing this we as artists often balk or sabotage ourselves by our fear, our low self-worth, or more simply by other agendas we might have. Cameron suggests that the best way to distinguish one from the other is to simply ask ourselves…
How can this loss serve me? Where does it point my work? The key to doing this is to know, to trust, and to act as if a silver lining exists if you are only willing to look at the work differently or walk through a different door, one that you may have balked at.
And finally at the end of the chapter Julia asks us to name our dream right now, to write it down. “In a perfect world, I would secretly love to be a_______.” This reminds me of the assignment that Me Ra gave us a couple weeks back asking us to say out loud our dreams. You can find Linda’s, Jennifer’s and mine (Lindsay’s) simply by clicking on our names. This was one of the hardest assignments that Me Ra has given me, it was uncomfortable and very naked, but I can not begin to express how freeing it was to put my dream out into the world. The most amazing part being that someone actually cared enough to read it and push me gently in that direction (Thank You Jowhara).
So… am I willing to follow that dream at the risk of experiencing an artistic loss? Well…yes I think I am. With a new commitment I am going to allow my inner artist to grieve the losses that come her way. I will remind her that a silver lining does exist if I believe it can. I will learn from each loss and move on, showing my children that it is okay to grieve a loss, but it is not okay for that loss to defeat you. And at the end of this journey I pray that I too will shine a bit brighter just like my Kyle does.
***The Images are from Ella’s first day of Kindergarten. My sweet girl is growing up at lightning speed right in front of my eyes. She always knows the right thing to say to life my spirits. She is the greatest 5 year old fan you could ever ask for. When I have those artistic losses I try to pick up my camera and capture one of my best creations I will ever make…my children!!***