I was visiting with a friend a few days ago when she said something that got me thinking. I had just given her a tour of my studio and she said, “You must be in heaven when you’re painting.” My reply surprised her.
Sometimes I am in heaven and everything flows and it’s easy. Other times I’m wrestling with feelings of frustration and self-doubt. Nothing is working. I feel like a fraud. Ugh. It’s a lot like therapy. I like the outcome most of the time but it can be a grueling process getting there.
I think a lot of people have romantic ideas about artists and art in general. They don’t believe me when I tell them that I’m struggling with a piece or that sometimes it’s hard work and I doubt my abilities. But it’s true. There are moments of sheer panic when I want to toss all my supplies out the window and give up.
But then there are those moments when something beautiful unfolds. I understand myself more completely. I feel at home in my body. I’m filled with gratitude and wonder. These are the moments that propel me forward through the dark times and the fear and anguish.
So, I’m curious: if you’re reading this and you’re an artist, is this true for you too? Or if you’re not an artist, what are the things in your life that challenge you this way? I know I’m not alone. There’s a principle of proportionality that seems to be universal. It goes something like this:
To the extent that something has the potential to bless you, it has an equal potential to cause you grief.
For you, it might be parenting or writing or exercise or your career. Whatever it is, I’d love to hear from you. It will make us all feel less crazy and alone and we might just emerge a little more whole in the end.