Sometimes life is just so confusing…oh no wait, life is like this all the time.
Confusing. Stressful. Crap. Two days ago I was having a bit of meltdown, as one does, and was thinking of quitting something I really love. Why? Probably depression, anxiety, not doing the actual thing I love and getting in my head about it.
“What if I don’t ever get to DO the thing that I love to the extent that I want to do it?”
“What if I never have success?”
“What if I’m always scraping by financially and having to work shitty jobs I hate?”
“What if I end up being a 40 year old waitress with the bitter slap of failure melting through my whole body every single day with every single step!”
These thoughts can seem over-dramatic, but to someone in my line of work (an artist) its not. It’s reality. The reality is that, yes, some of these ‘what if’s’ may come true. BUT despite the greatest odds that may be against me, I have to look at what I’ve got. In me. Talent. Passion. Things that need to be said and done! And what makes me happy, gives me joy, pleasure, fulfillment.
Doing the thing I love gives me pleasure. Learning about the thing I love does that too. Being around people who love what I love and who thirst and yearn for it and for learning about it as much as I do gives me pleasure. So although there may be quite a number of negative things related to my chosen profession I’m going to keep pursuing the thing I love. Because its a passion. An obsession. It’s not perfect, or wonderful, or bliss all the time, but it gives me these magical moments that no other work could give me. And in that state of having worked my butt off there is only a ‘blessed unrest’ as Martha Graham said.
A great actress – Viola Davis had this to say in a recent interview with other actresses in regards to her work and it relates so much to passion and pleasure:
“When your passion and drive is bigger then your fears, then you just dive! And then at any given moment you’re just going to be rejected, it’s just gonna be difficult, I’m on my last unemployment check, no way to pay my bills after that and you stay in it cause you know that’s occupational hazard”
Doing what we do is an occupational hazard. It comes with the territory. A lion has to be aware of defending his territories, of keeping his pride safe, of continuing his legacy, it comes with the territory of being a lion. So all this comes with the territory of being an artist and once you can accept that, I believe that you will no longer walk in fear, but in acceptance that it just comes with the territory. Or perhaps the fear will always be there, but your joy and pleasure will drive you onwards in spite of it.
I now leave you with the wise words of Martha Graham:
There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique.
If you block it,
it will never exist through any other medium
and be lost.
The world will not have it.
It is not yours to determine how good it is;
nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
You have to keep open and aware directly
to the urges that motivate you.
Keep the channel open.
No artist is ever pleased.
There is no satisfaction whatever at any time.
There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction;
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
and makes us more alive than the others.
–Martha Graham to Agnes De Mille