On Art- A Personal Essay of Self-Exploration
The Artist’s Way hasn’t worked for me in the way I thought it would. This realization is not especially profound because, as life teaches us, nothing really works out the way that you think it will. By you I mean me. Speaking in the second person makes me feel like I have a platform. In any case, I am still stuck on week 10. Usually, since up until this point I have unknowingly been a product oriented person, this would drive me insane. Usually, I would rush through the tasks just so that I can say I went through the motions of doing the whole thing. Lately, I haven’t been succumbing to doing things just for the sake of doing them. Lately, I have been evaluating every action, project, and relationship to understand just what it is worth to me. The BIG thing that my touch-and-go relationship with The Artist’s Way has taught me is how important it is to live by YOUR code. Even though I have yet to finish the tasks; even though I haven’t written morning pages in 5 days (only to write one day then skip 3 more), this program has led me to water. (Funny enough, Julia Cameron write another book called Finding Water as a sequel guide to the never ending creative journey.)
A friend I was working with to develop and produce her piece (Dandelion Chains @ Stage773- Friday nights until 4/6!) gave me The Artist’s Way as a gift. It changed her life, and enabled her to write her first play. Dandelion Chains is her second full length solo play in three years. I eagerly started the same week I got the package in the mail. I wanted to be a prolific and passionate as Shanna. I wanted to unblock my creative channels so that I could become an unstoppable artist goddess.
This never really happened.
Instead, I got angry, depressed, and even less in touch with that unchanging thing full of infinite intelligence, love, and truth. I didn’t want to go to work. I didn’t want to be at home. I didn’t want to go out. I didn’t want to talk to my family. I didn’t want to make anything, do anything, or be anything.
Around Christmas Time, I got an e-mail about a Groupon for Moksha Yoga that was about to expire. I managed to peel myself (or be forcefully peeled) from my bed. I did it. It wasn’t amazing, but I did it.
I remember that the weather was nice that day. I went home and I cried and I slept.
A couple of days later, I went to class again.
I went home afterwards and cried and took a shower and probably drank something.
About a week later, I went to class again.
I went home and I wept and I yelled and then I slept.
And then, I felt empty.
If you have ever been to a swamp, you know the smell of that black mud. It doesn’t smell like feces, but it doesn’t smell like mold either. It is a smell all it’s own; reserved for swamp dwellers only.
I imagine that mud to be what was mucking up my emotions; what was sucking out all of my happiness and vitality.
Those classes cleared it out. Once it was gone, I didn’t know what to identify myself with. For 5 years, I have identified myself based on how successful I have been making plays. How forcefully I can assert my point of view, how gracefully I can inspire, and how worshiped I was by the inhabitants of 72 East 11th street. (Which, if you are reading this, please stop. You are just as capable, if not more so, of making something just as meaningful) Theater does not lead to personhood. Theater will not sustain your spirit. It is easy to confuse theater (or any other creative medium) with love. But the truth is, if what you make doesn’t come from love, then you are just giving your ego another chance to wrap its vines tighter around your heart. If you let this happen enough, you will have nothing left- just swamp.
Once I finish up with the Hypocrites (Romeo and Juliet, May 2012!), I am taking a year away from the theater to concentrate on my yoga practice. The Artist’s Way (and my inability to finish it) has led me to two conclusions- 1. You cannot infuse your life with your creative spirit without first connecting to the stillness and infinite part of yourself. 2. Seeking this stillness is an art in itself. Living a mindful and loving life is art. I can express my art through asana, pranayama, and meditation practice. My practice gives me the ability to share my light and love with the world.
If we all were able to access this all of the time, there would be no suffering.