Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Guilty Aesthete Recants

Guilt, shame, and fear are monkey wrenches in our imagination.

It doesn't matter who threw the monkey wrench (somebody did). It doesn't matter that there's a monkey wrench stuck (we often find ways to keep it there--we might lose a favorite limb if we went in to get it out, right?). What matters, though, is that we remove it.

Have you ever heard these messages, either from yourself or from someone else?

"Who do you think you are?"

"The odds are terrible you'll succeed."

"You're being selfish."

"You think you're better than me?"

"Do something useful."

"How's your little ________ going?"

"You can't do whatever you want."

"Shouldn't you have a fall back plan?"

"I can't afford _________ to be a(n) _________."

"That's too expensive (and not worth it)."

"You need a degree."

If you've read my bio, you know that I experienced "creative anorexia" for over two decades before I started to make art again. I had to get over the idea that art and beauty didn't matter, that I needed to do something "important" like take care of people or the environment because heck, it's not like I mattered enough--or my dreams--to do merely what I wanted to do.

I exhausted almost all my other career fantasies before relenting and doing art. I'm stubborn, and I can resist like nobody's business. This isn't to say I haven't benefited from my exploration of other careers--they've certainly informed my present career and I'm much more effective and efficient than I would have been without the intervening years of experience I accumulated.

However, a lot of what I did was to avoid confronting the conflict of what I wanted to do, and what I was told was worth doing (and would make me a worthwhile person if I did it). The trouble was, I couldn't be satisfied and it was a long and miserable young adulthood.

Now I'm in my thirties. It's not too late, as evidenced by those older than me (Grandma Moses started painting in her 70's, Julia Childs became a chef in her 40's, the list goes on), to relent and live the life I've always wanted to live, without apology.

I love art. I appreciate beauty and I believe there's a purpose to beauty, beyond attraction and vanity. It inspires, calms, impassions, and more--but I don't need to justify it.

Without a purpose, beauty is still beautiful, and that's enough.

Just like us.

Take care,

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