It’s funny how quickly feelings can change… What’s even funnier is how much we try to attach ourselves to them, yet we discover that we are met with the same conclusion every time: feelings, states of mind, are forever fleeting. That is, until you master your mind… I’m just not quite there yet, although it is a goal I am working toward.
Three weeks ago was my last blog entry, just one week into our adventure out West. Sincere hopefulness and happiness spilled from my fingertips onto the keyboard as I wrote on that sunny Thursday afternoon. I sat in what I’ve decided to be my favorite spot here in CO yet. It’s called “Wonder” and its located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, inside an adorable town called Boulder. They serve fresh-pressed organic juices, house-made nut milks, lattes made with turmeric, and they put butter & coconut oil in their coffee. If you know anything about me, you know I was in heaven here.
As we approached Wonder for the first time, it instantly grabbed my attention, similar to how Cinderella’s Castle would as you first enter into Disney World. The small white brick building sits tucked between a pair of busier casual dining restaurants on Pearl Street. Golden letters in the most simple font, spell out the word “WONDER”, and nothing more. My eyes lit up, I pointed, and walked swiftly across the street. Barely checking for cars, I headed straight for the entrance. Just before entering, I see in white lettering on the door “Fresh Local Organic…” I’m already sold.
I pushed through the door like a giddy child in a candy store, (this is MY kind of candy) and I made my way toward the counter. I was met with a display of rainbow life liquid, an array of colorful, nutrient-packed juices that came straight from the earth. My brain and my taste buds lit up. I was so happy. My mind, body and soul felt nourished just looking at this stuff! I looked over at Dalton to see that he too had a smile on his face. Although he was also pleased to find this place, I think his expression may have had more to do with his entertainment in watching me try to figure out what I was going to order. He, as he always does, chose his drink in about 30 seconds. Me, well I had to sit down with the menu while he drank his coffee and I contemplated what I would get, as though it was a life or death decision. I guess I’ve always been this way with decisions though, nothing new. Anyway, in addition to the awesome menu and values of the place, the interior was so simply beautiful. We sat at a long wooden bench with warm vanilla colored wooden tables (I wouldn’t be surprised if the wood was local too) that was contrasted by plump denim blue & white tie-dyed canvas pillows scattered along the bench. The walls are a stark white on one side, with minimal decor, and raw brick on the other. Wonder was instant inspiration for me. The feelings it gave me lit up my creative brain in all sorts of ways. Health, community, sustainability, style, and imagination all came together in a beautiful bouquet of loveliness in this tiny white building on Pearl Street.
On our second trip to Wonder, I sat down and wrote a blog post. I wrote my feelings, or at least I wrote whatever feelings were coming to me as I sat in this little organic juice Disney World we had found. Shortly after, I felt my feelings begin to shift. It started to sink in that we were really here, and that we were really on an open-ended adventure. I allowed the excitement and novelty to wear off quickly, and welcomed worry and concern to creep in. A couple of weeks went by and I realized that it was going to take some time to really get started here with my art. It may seem simple to anyone on the outside. What’s so complicated about creating some paintings and selling them? If I can paint, then I can just paint, right? Well, not exactly.
Creativity is like a house of cards, a game of Jenga, or even an organic juice. Like assembling a house of cards, creativity takes time, effort, patience, and a calm state of mind. Like pulling one wooden block can bring a Jenga tower crashing down, writing one blog, or completing one sketch can drain everything you’ve got, leaving you in a heap right back where you started. In juicing, it may take an entire head of kale, 1 bunch of spinach, 5 carrots, and an apple to make one glass of juice, and similarly it takes a tremendous amount of images, music, vibrant experiences, and self confidence just to build up a well of creative feelings to inspire the creation of one single piece of artwork.
With an endless supply of beautiful views, positive people around me, and plenty of sunshine, I couldn’t complain of a lack of inspiration. In fact, I created quite a bit in the first two weeks we were here. But as I previously mentioned, my creative well ran dry after exhausting the inspiration that I had managed to gather. I felt empty, and sad, and that’s when my focus began to shift. I stopped seeing what was beautiful and I saw only what was wrong with the world and myself. I started worrying about how I would make money here, and even doubted my ability to paint. I, like many artists, am extremely hard on myself and often relate my ability to create directly with my self-worth and self-esteem.
I stopped seeing what was beautiful and I saw only what was wrong with the world and myself.
If there’s a period of time that I fail to create something awe-inspiring or drastically better than the last, I feel that not only has my creativity failed me, but I have failed at life, as a human being.
I analyze my work and I begin to regret making it at all. The inner workings of my mind spin out of control as I torment myself with negativity and ridicule the artist in me like a parent would a child that has just brought upon them the ultimate disappointment. I know I’m not alone in this, and it’s such a shame that so many of us treat ourselves in this way. What I’ve found so very recently (which is the only reason I am able to write this post) is that it is much more constructive to understand the mind and work with it, rather than against it.
I racked my brain for days on what to do. I felt completely lost and scared, and I felt myself losing control of my thoughts. I woke up feeling afraid of what the day would bring, in no respect other than in terms of my own mind. I had monsters inside of my head telling me that I wasn’t talented, that I was done growing as an artist, that I should be working harder, better, and more often. I completely neglected any ideas of gratitude and accomplishment for what I had achieved, and for how far I have come. I was trying to create from nothing. I needed to fill my well again, stock up my greens for another juice, re-stack my house of cards. But, I was in a hurry. That’s what life does to us. It makes us race so fast that we forget to refuel. I was focused only on how to make money so we could feel comfortable, stable, and “safe”.
Finally, after a couple weeks of chilly weather and snow, the sun came out from behind the clouds shining brighter than ever. Without any discussion, Dalton and I each took a book outside and began reading. We ended up spending the entire day outside, reading and basking in the warmth of the sun. This day changed everything. It was a clear shift for us both. We reconnected to ourselves and calmed our minds.
I had forgotten to slow down, enjoy the moment and remember why we came out here. I lost sight of why I chose this path in the first place, and that certainly wasn’t for stability, comfort and safety.
This path of uncertainty and instability, and what’s said to be the path of a “starving artist”, is a path of strength, tremendous growth, and relentless persistence.
Being on this path means no steady paycheck, no monthly or yearly bonuses. For me, it’s meant not having a vehicle of my own for over a year now. It means completely letting go of any “control” that we all cling to so tightly until the day that we die. It means letting go of needing “nice things” to make me feel good about myself. It means missing out on births of best friend’s babies, and cousins’ graduation parties. It means sacrificing comfort and normalcy now, to work toward something greater than myself that may come later. It means learning to trust myself to do whatever it takes to survive and CHOOSING to be happy during the process.
This path that I have chosen means looking at myself in the mirror, paint-splattered clothes, bare-faced and drained of energy, certainty, and sometimes money, knowing that I wouldn’t have it any other way.