Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How to swing on a TRAPEZE...

I have been thinking…

I should be actually creating something but instead I have been thinking about creating something.

Life is like that sometimes.

There are occasions when what I want to do seems so daunting that to even contemplate a beginning sets me into a backward motion.

There are those who think what I do comes easy to me and without any birth pangs----wrong!!!!

I remember seeing a trapeze artist in the circus when they still had circuses in tents; her big trick was in the midst of a huge swing her trapeze seemed break away and she plummeted toward the floor catching the merest edge of a bar with her toes.

It wasn’t easy, it didn’t look easy and I’ll bet she did a lot of thinking and practicing before she attempted the feat without a net.

As artists we have no net.

We do, but often we don't see that we do.

Our practice failures usually go in the round file and we then fall into deep depressions because we have failed ourselves again.

Did we fail or did we think we failed?

A trapeze performer would know because the floor rushing up to meet them would be validation enough.

As artists we have only our own sense of plummeting and insecurity to gauge by-what others say or any reassurances don’t hold the weight of a good solid smashup from 30 feet up.

Do we know when we have done something that is good enough OR is it ever good enough?

I think yes, I think every creative person has done something that they are proud of then they spend a great deal of time and energy trying to do it again and again instead of comparing each thing only to itself.

This exercise in futility is what makes us melancholy and insecure.

How do we stop the treadmill and start going forward?

How do we perform without a net?

We must do two things and take them seriously to heart:

The first is we listen only to our own inner voice that knows if what we have done is satisfying to our self.

Doesn’t have to be great or a first prize winner it just has to be OK by your standards.

This requires one to set the standard high but not so high that every challenge will be a flop.

Secondly, and this one is hard, we have to go ahead and put it out there in that bright spotlight where our work is subject to critique and back stabbing bastards, morons with no taste and even a fan or two who tell us they love our work-we smile and ignore all of them…

UNLESS you are in a class and you trust the ability of the instructor to give you an honest critique from which you will learn and advance-smile and ignore all comments good and bad-be gracious but be like Teflon-nothing sticks.

I have seen some really bad art produced by people who have no clue that what they do is really terrible and here’s the jibe-they are successful they sell the crap as if it were fabulous.

I have seen wonderful artists who sit beside their displays at art shows and are so apologetic that people walk by and never notice that they missed a treasure because they were beguiled by the crap with a personality.

For every one of the latter I assure you that there are a hundred at home that never even took the plunge-they are happily swinging on their trapeze with no intention of any daredevil antics like putting their art on public display.

IF you thought of it as something else would it make a difference? If it weren’t the product of your creativity but something mechanical you did well-MATH comes to mind…

It would be no different because we are programmed to have this ego connected to everything we do, the product of our doing is scrutinized and judged and graded-or so we perceive-and we often fail in our own eyes.

I ACHE, more than that----I suffer empathetically along with someone who doesn’t begin to know how to believe in themselves-I’m not a champ at the process but I have had some success with a few trapeze stunts when there wasn’t much of a net because I had people who were there to catch me when and if I fell.

I read or hear someone going on about how insecure they are about their ability and I want to instantly bandage the wounds and smack whoever made them so…scared…fragile.
Some say a good smack upside the head would knock some sense into the insecure, fragile one…I disagree they have been smacked enough.

NOW there are those people for whom DRAMA is a lifestyle, they live and breathe it-they know very well they are good at whatever they do but without the drama the entire exercise is without a certain perverse reward…they get the praise and they get the safety net and all the while they are getting away with murder (metaphorically).

I think DRAMA QUEEN is over used but I was recently accused of moving in a sphere of Drama myself.

I had to think about it long and hard and I realized my safety net is a bit tattered and just maybe I was a little guilty of needing some extra attention.

While I am not proud of this admission I am willing to share it because I am not by far perfect and I think there in a humanist quality to needing even if it is not in the best way.

Also having recognized it for what it is I can move away from it and back towards practice, thinking and finally going for the big TAH DAH!

I know I am on very new and unexplored ground artistically these days but I have enough tools and abilities to see me through these first difficult explorations into unknown territory-I will prevail because I want to.

And there it is; for all the thinking and compulsing and anxiety and whatever else holds us back from doing the thing we are dreading in the end we must WANT to do it.

We must want to do it and we must take as much of our ego out of it as possible-we are not trapeze artists, we are not going to hit the concrete in the center ring at 90 miles an hour in front of a crowd of cheering audience members, we are simply people who want to express themselves with creativity and we express ourselves in a way that speaks to ourselves.

What others think or how they perceive what we do doesn’t matter, their grades are irrelevant, their opinions are as well so long as we have been true to our vision and pleased the hardest person to please-our inner self.

Now that you know how to swing on a trapeze do you think you might contemplate something more...dangerous?

You KNOW you want to,

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