After a delicious bite at Mission Pie yesterday, Land Dog and I got into this discussion about our art! We're both involved in theatre, writing, visual art as well as some musical endeavors...
And this is the case with many of my friends (which makes for some really good times!) but there is this feeling of insecurity that seems to come with being an artist. There are all kinds of ego-trips to worry about, there's money (or rather the lack thereof) and there's the motivation. Why do we do it?
This morning, at our weekly breakfast, I sat and guzzled coffee with a few friends. After our orders had been placed Char set down his cup and said, "so guys, how's everyone doing with their quarter life crises?" Ha! I laughed to myself, (it's something I reference often), Land Dog said she's not in it yet and has a few years to go and Alex just changed the subject. Well, Land Dog, it seems to me this questioning of art and what one is doing with one's future might just fall under that quarter-life dilemma...
The thing is, for me, it's becoming more and more clear that I'm doing exactly what I need to be doing! I've spent so many years driven by specific goals and these self-imposed goals have kept me moving forward. At a certain point I started to realize that I might be becoming overly ambitious, that these goals were starting to cause me a lot of suffering and that I was too one-pointed! This became especially painful to me when I failed to achieve one of my biggest goals and had to re-evaluate everything. So reaching that point and having nowhere else to go, I decided to let the pendulum swing in the opposite direction for a bit.
I stopped thinking so much about the future and totally indulged in the present. I stopped pushing myself forward with goals and instead started looking deep within myself. This was really beneficial to me in a lot of ways but now, all of a sudden, I feel like it's time for another change. It's time to mobilize again. And maybe it's time to set a few goals...just a few!
I have some auditions lined up and a couple of my friends and I are going to start setting up figure drawing sessions that suit our schedules. I've been working on some music and of course, writing. But where will all of this get me? I don't know. And sometimes, I start to question the importance of my art. This is where my personal dilemma lies: When I attend my weekly meditation and listen to the Dharma talks that follow I start to crave a completely different lifestyle. I imagine myself devoting my life to service and renouncing materialistic things, I hear stories of people working in prisons, in hospitals, with children and in other countries with people who are far less fortunate and I forget all about art.
I grew up on a Yoga Ashram and when I took a semester off from school after my first year in college I went back for a retreat. When I was on this retreat I basically got to live like a hermit; meditating and doing Hatha Yoga three times a day, practicing Karma Yoga, working in a kitchen or garden and analyzing ancient scriptures. I never thought about doing my hair and makeup a certain way, never watched TV or went on the Internet and I didn't even really make any art. I was totally blissful and relaxed. But like all things, this experience came to an end. When I came back to "reality" I was a little shell-shocked for a minute but quickly got back to my old world. And this time I came with a renewed dedication to my art! I found that my break from painting had actually allowed for a new wave of art to come to life. When I returned to acting I found myself a completely different presence onstage and I felt, in some ways, unblocked. Basically, I found new meaning in everything.
There are moments when I question what I'm doing as an artist but what I try to remember in these moments is how art has inspired and affected me. How it can open the mind, show us the world in different ways, inspire all kinds of feelings and spark discussions, how it can provide relief from pain and suffering and how it can teach us about ourselves. I hope that I can continue to challenge myself and my peers and I hope we can all work together as a community. If we don't know what we're doing or why, let's figure it out together! There is potential to make meaningful change in this world and we are the ones who have the means and good fortune to do just that!