Friday, April 13, 2012

Inspiration Point

It's been a gloomy week.  I think I needed a few days to lay low and integrate some of the big changes that have taken place over the past month.

It is challenging to realize that, now that I have all the time, all the privacy, and all the tools to do exactly what I love all day,

I am having a hard time freeing my creativity. 

Wednesday I sketched a little something that I think sums up how I feel.

Funny how one little drawing can help so much.  It gave me a clearer understanding of this strange hesitation to truly embrace my creative freedom, both on the page and in life.

I suppose what I really saw was a story.  

I watched it unfold so clearly in my mind's eye, as though it already had a life of its own.  I even saw how it would take shape in the material sense - perhaps printed as a little zine, or a tiny hand-bound book.  

Something to share with people.

Something to inspire. 

And yet this, too, became painful.

Expressing myself through art can make me feel so completely present, whole and at peace.  But whenever I de-emphasize the creative process and focus instead on bringing a particular project to fruition, the experience becomes unbearable. 

The task looms heavy over me like a joyless chore.  Nothing ever looks good enough.  The concept seems either too naive or pretentious.  I realize I hate my work and maybe even myself and I wonder how I ever had the audacity or nerve to think myself an artist, and what am I really doing with my life, anyway? 

It's rather impressive how quickly this sort of thinking escalates.  

Still, one sketch turned into a few more.

Which I suppose means I managed to cope alright, to some degree.

Yet I couldn't seem to completely shake the negative self-talk, and it became clear that I needed to walk away from the drawing board for a while

So I got on my bike and simply rode.  

Bicycles are such wonderful anti-depressants.  They seem to bestow upon the rider a unique gift by unlocking an ability to see and discover all of the magic of the world that is hidden in plain sight.

Leaving the apartment, I cut through Golden Gate Park then headed north, up and down several hills.  With no planned destination, no preferred outcome, no particular expectation - simply enjoying the ride.

The last hill was steep.  Another cyclist had even pulled off to the sidewalk, electing to walk his bike up the incline.  Shifting into high gear, I managed to make it to the top without dismounting.  

That's when I noticed that the road forked sharply, sloping downhill in either direction.  In a split-second decision, I opted to coast to the right, sill clueless as to where I might be headed.

Then a vista unfolded as I come around the bend: To the right, a neat row of Victorian style homes hugging the edge of the city; straight ahead, a hill blanketed by a lush canopy of trees; and floating there on my left was the peaceful San Francisco Bay.  

The scene was so beautiful and so unexpected, it literally brought tears to my eyes.  

I pulled into the lookout area to catch my breath, and couldn't help but smile when I spotted the sign informing me where I was:

Inspiration Point.

Yes, that would do.

I sat there for some time.  Watching the boats on the water.  A hawk riding the thermals.  Some hikers inbound on the trail.  And by the time I got back on my bike to leave, something miraculous had happened:

I had remembered myself.

What a beautiful gift.
Isn't this what expression and creation are really here to help us achieve?

Maybe that's the only part of my art I need to worry about.  Not if it is technically good, or culturally relevant, or likeable by others.  Not what possible future effects may result from its creation.  Simply:

Is it honest?  Is it authentic?  Is it me?  

Can I let myself love it?


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