[One of many pieces currently in the works in my studio that began with the deconstruction of an existing piece. This was an oil painting on stretched canvas that was taken off its frame and applied to a new wood panel.]
I know it is not necessary - or even productive - to try to compartmentalize my life too much at all. I scribbled down a few sentences yesterday exploring what it means to to approach my life from the question of What do I want to say? versus What do I want to do?. My brief synopsis was that my actions will always speak louder than any words I say or write, so the question of What do I want to do? will always be intimately tied to the question of What do I want to say? In other words, I can "say" a great deal simply by what I do.
I also know it is not necessary - or even productive - to have any concern over the way my life flows. There will be times when I am quiet and times when I am the life of the party. Some days my attention is buried in my creative work and other days it is focused on getting that work seen. There will be times when my artistic ideas catapult out of me like fireworks, times when they flow gently like honey and times when they are stuck in the mire of self-doubt, exhaustion or simple artist's block. It is all part of the same experience, which is my life. I need not worry that if I spend too much time in one area or another I will be defined as such, and that these definitions will somehow limit me.
I say all of this to express where I am right now - which is in a place of expansive observation. Expansive as in I am taking a lot of time to look closely at all the patterns, routines and consistent choices in my life and whether or not they are truly serving me. This is an ongoing process - when am I not over-thinking, analyzing, questioning and contemplating? But this feels different. This is quieter, softer, and inspired by a brutally honest assessment of the fact that much of what I have been doing - particularly with my creative work - has been motivated by many levels of unhealthy grasping. This is not to say I regret anything or that what I have been doing has not been worthwhile - quite the opposite. But I finally had to admit to myself that much of what I felt like I had to pursue was motivated by this grasping, and whenever there is grasping there is tension, and wherever there is tension there is a blockage of the natural flow of things.
I think this blog reflects all of this. I have continued to post regularly, but more of them are tiny snippets of whatever happens to be catching my attention on any given day - dewdrops in Big Sur, snails by my house, my grandpa's travel photos and the daily adventures I've been experiencing in my studio. I haven't known how to precisely express the gentle current that has been sweeping me in unexpected directions. To be more exact, I haven't known how to express it in a way that doesn't sound exactly like so many other internal stirrings I've shared here over the years.
Maybe in my quest to un-grasp, I am letting go of the need to constantly share the stories I am living in the hopes that they are somehow inspiring; perhaps that release is being masqueraded as a fear of sounding repetitive. There are countless stories in me that I know I will eventually need to sit down and write, but I am feeling less like I need to write them in order to say this or that (because this or that might be helpful, uplifting, etc. and therefore recognized, appreciated and acknowledged) and more like I need to write them because they need to be written. I need to create art right now, and I need to continue writing stories. But both are now flowing out of me because I need to do these things rather than because I hope they will give me some kind of recognition, book deal, Amazon rank or validity. Admittedly, this is still an idea I am getting used to and not entirely comfortable with, but in that discomfort I see the signs of a necessary stage of growth.
I read an interview with Ashley Judd many years ago in which she said, "I've lost all ambition," in a discussion of how content she was with her life the way it was at the time, which was less about Hollywood and more about knowing the names of all the wildflowers on her property. That interview has stayed with me ever since, and I often wonder what it really meant for her to feel the loss of a certain kind of ambition and be content with that loss. This idea has continued to intrigue me, and every once in a while I explore my own definition of ambition and whether or not it still flows through my veins.
I find myself, once again, thinking of her interview, and asking myself what it is I really want to do. What ~ Do I Want ~ To Do? I am sharing many of the answers that are unfolding in my studio right now - I want to dismantle, deconstruct, and create with absolute abandon - but some of the other answers are still being mined for and examined. But maybe I will never need to utter a single word about what those other answers are; maybe they will reveal themselves in the things that I do - tomorrow, next month and at the end of the year. And maybe it's time I let that be enough, do the work I need to do, and release my need to talk so much about it as if I need to prove myself and grasp at all those things I think will give it meaning and validity - all those external rewards I have been taught to believe will give me a deep sense of satisfaction and contentment.
Maybe simply living a life that is meaningful to me is enough, and I can let that say everything I might ever want to say.