It’s an incredibly isolating series of choices, devoting oneself to creation.
As a child, I spent most of my time playing pretend, learning things, and making things. Imaginary universes constructed themselves around me and I drifted through my days studying them, refining them, and playing in them.
As an adult, I spend as much of my time as I can the same way.
But with more typing.
Child me always had a friend or two to have imaginary adventures with.
Grownup me has something else going on.
The greatest pleasures of my life are when I practice receptivity and something comes through. I’d love to be dramatic and say that it “claws its way in,” but the truth is that it’s gentle when it arrives, feverish when I’m catching it, captivating when I’m giving it form, and thrilling when I get to experience it at last.
And then the cold, dull, gray wait for the next one begins.
On “a good week,” they come quickly and often. On a bad week, I have a sparkling moment or two and almost everything else is sludgy haze.
And when nothing comes, it’s a dark spiral.
All of the self-care I practice began as a way to keep the dark spirals from killing me. Now, my habits and routines are slowly making the “dead air” more bearable. Who knows, I might even enjoy some of the time in between. Sometimes I do.
The greatest gift that taking care of myself has given me is that the magical idea moments flow longer and more frequently. When I meditate, I can find myself struck by inspiration for an entire night.
It’s no surprise that my work has a magical feel to it.
I work in subtle flashes from some other place. The Muses send me mysterious “inspirations” and my job is to catch them and give them life and form. When I can.
I don’t care about the medium so much.
Painting, writing, music, comedy, acting, puppeteering, games… whatever comes through in a pure and real way is worth my time in making it and performing it.
Are my flashes “original”?
It’s fun to think so.
In my life, it has occurred to me that the “best” way for me to work through an idea is to play with it. Scratch around with it. Find the unique game hidden inside of it.
Not every idea works and some of my efforts are in vain. Sometimes, I’m just not good enough.
But boring, lonely me must have predicted that I’d one day have the problems that come with this approach.
I’m still addicted to learning and skills and spend quite a lot of time “mastering” them. That probably sounds like a sleepy sheep to some people and raking scrapes on a chalkboard to many others.
But that’s what I love.
I learned early on that I prefer to put my hands directly into the clay, figuratively speaking (unless I’m sculpting, then it’s more literal). Painting, I usually play with colors directly on my hands. Writing, I meditate during a long bath in the dark and then sit in front of a notebook or my laptop with headphones on. With music, it’s my candle lit basement. Zoon and I spend a lot of time alone together, just talking about life. Etc.
And yet, if my work were about me, I’d kill myself.
I believe that great Art isn’t about the Artist telling you something directly. Sometimes, that approach results in great art but it’s usually despite the insecure attention-seeking, not because of it.
Rather than give the Fates an opportunity to render my work mediocre or worse, I cut out the middle man. When I perform comedy, the point is the audience’s experience, not my ego or a post-traumatic need for validation.
My work isn’t for me. I’m lucky enough to be able to enjoy it, but the audience’s experience is vital. If it’s funny, they usually laugh. If it’s interesting, they might come back.
Even with Zoon, where the topics may sometimes spring from my life, it’s still not about me.
Sometimes, an idea is pure and well-executed but people don’t “get it”. And that’s okay. You don’t win a prize for getting it. The prize is those moments when (if?) you’re able to let go and allow your imagination to roam free, mingled, hopefully, with that spark of mystery, lifting up, even if just a little, a superconscious reality that all too often expresses itself in banality and heartbreak.
In my ideal, my work would be about the love that transcends attachment and assumption. But maybe I’m aiming too high there. I certainly don’t think of any of this while creating. I do everything I can to keep thoughts out of it. If a piece of art can be easily summed up, it’s probably not great. We have to use a lowercase “a”.
The idea takes over and tells me what to do. Then I play around with it, as gently and lightly as I can, and find a mode of expression and medium that works for both of us.
At my best, I’m childlike, filled with wonder and awe and surprisingly open. At my worst, I’m childish (I’d say more, but I think we all know what an annoying brat is like; at least you know what an obnoxious brat is like if you hang out with me in a dark spiral).
“Childlike” is my work.
In this way, my Art is service for others.
I hope this is enough about me. Talking about myself feels like the most banal thing in the world and I’d rather spend time working on one of my books than writing this.
No offense, of course.
I hope someone gets a laugh out of reading this. If not, that’s on you. Seriously. I didn’t force you to read this far.
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Or follow Zoon….