To recover our inner artist, we must face the scars that block us. As if we are trees, we remember and grieve where the hopeful young sapling’s limbs of potential were damaged by the ice storms of criticism, broken by aloof (perhaps jealous) teachers, weakened by drought of support, and torn away from us by the thoughtless, harsh attitudes of parents and others whose opinions we needed.
This damage has to be bravely diagnosed, if we are to know how to treat and heal it. Julia writes, “Like the career of any athlete, an artist’s life will have injuries. These go with the game. The trick is to survive them, to learn how to let yourself heal. Just as a player who ignores a sore muscle may tear it further, an artist who buries his pain over losses will ultimately cripple himself into silence. Give yourself the dignity of admitting your artistic wounds. That is the first step to healing them.”
If we ignore the darker moments that detoured us from our heart’s wishes as artists, we may fail to see how we ourselves may still be re-enacting the scenarios that thwarted our dreams.
Julia explains, “No inventory of our artistic injuries would be compete without acknowledging those wounds that are self-inflicted. Many times as artists, we are offered a chance that we balk at, sabotaged by our fear, our low self-worth, or simply our other agendas.”
I agree, but then she and I have a difference of opinion. Julia cites two examples where people turn down offers for dream opportunities in other cities, because they don’t want to leave lovers, friends, or family. This is a tough one, and, in my opinion, not as simple as how Julia frames it. Trying to choose between our artistic calling and our loved ones is a painful, difficult choice, and not only because we are blocked artists.
In some cases, choosing the relationships may, as she indicates, be an act of self-sabotage, especially if those connections are not joyful and good for us. And I agree that all too often, it is easier (thanks to long habit) to sacrifice our artistic dream for the comfort and ease of someone else.
But I do believe that our human connections can be in harmony with, even integral to, our creative work. I think that if, as today’s quote describes, we have surrounded ourselves with people who respect and treat us well, particularly our artist self, we run just as much risk. Making a choice to leave such a loving support system has just as much potential to sabotage our artistic growth.
What we both agree on is that the more we see and accept the past experiences that make us vulnerable to such conflicts, the more we will be able to avoid situations that create strife in the first place.
If we can understand the patterns of our past that have buried our artist self, we can better prepare for future patterns that test us. These would be the recurring situations that seem to pit our security versus our yearnings for free expression; or that appear to force us to choose between our beloveds and our art. I believe that such dichotomies are usually false; a side-effect of older wounds that make our vision myopic.
Most of all, it is imperative that we not make choices that we will bitterly regret later.
But what do you think? Have you ever felt torn in such a way? What did you do? In retrospect, how do those choices look today?