There is no SatNav system for the artistic life.
Most of the time, we creative people complain about the problems of not being able to get into the Zone. Not being able to find the door into the imagination. Not being able to make our art.
Or we complain about not being able to get out of our own way. We get hung up on the avoidance tactics and displacement activities we use so we don’t have to think about the empty page, the blank canvas.
Be honest, how many loads of washing have you done to avoid that novel you’ve been meaning to write? How many drawers and cupboards have you cleaned out as an excuse to get away from your easel or your desk?
Seriously, its amazing how interesting cleaning can become when you need to be doing something else.
However, one of the perils of the artistic life that we rarely talk about, let alone complain about, is that of getting lost.
Lost in your imagination.
Lost in that place where the stories never end.
Lost where the romance and the passion and the adventure and the danger go on and on, and there is never, never washing to be done, unless it is in a picturesque stream with the sun sparkling on its surface, and requires both hero and heroine to divest themselves of their clothes in as romantic/modest/passionate (delete as appropriate) way as possible.
Suddenly you will wake up one morning and realise that you have been trapped on the island of the Lotus Eaters, so lost in the pleasures of your mind that you have forgotten to live.
Marriages founder this way. Bankruptcies are forged, friendships lost, loved-ones go unmourned. It happens all the time.
We lose ourselves constantly. Often it is complusive shopping, gambling, drinking, eating or other drugs that claim us. Addictions can be apparently harmless. Surfing the internet seems harmless enough, until you realise you have lost days and weeks of your life doing it. We lose ourselves in meaningless busyness, in rushing round fulfilling empty tasks, in competing with friends and neighbours, in acquiring the latest TV, sofa, car, clothes. Modern life encourages us to find an addiction to dull the ennui.
Being present is hard. Its even harder if you have an over-active imagination. It is so much nicer to be lost in a story than facing the reality of life. Doing the work of living. Being real. It is so easy to slip away and not come back.
Lately I have been away. In the last couple of days, I’ve realised that life is tugging at the hem of my skirts, wanting me back, needing my attention. I’m fighting it. I don’t want to come back. I want to stay in my fantasy world.
But life needs living. We only get one go. The art needs making, yes. But our lives are our art too.
Don’t forget to live as well.
Happy Creative Living,