“This is a prototypical autumn day,” an elderly gent said as he walked by. I thought he’s probably a professer emeritus to use the word “prototypical” in casual conversation. Candy walked down the hill carrying the last of her two framed artworks for her show at St. James Cathedral. Her neck was in a Frankenstein medical contraption. Later she walked by with her newest Shelty pup zipped up in her coat like a momma kangaroo.
I’ve got my mojo back again. The knitting needles knitted themselves today. It took me half as long to unwind the line. All this because I got clear again about my direction. For the last two days, I’ve had an internal war raging over whether or not to grow my part-time art tutor hours in addition to caregiving, or whether to focus on my artistic goals, and do the caregiving. Today, I quieted myself, closed my eyes, and asked the question three times, and listened. Each time, I heard, “Focus on your art.” And the second time I asked, I had a vision of myself using a sword to slash thick vines that kept trying to entangle me like the prince in “Sleeping Beauty.” (And how appropriate that image is…art unrealized is a kind of sleeping beauty.)
The problem is that each time I clear a space to make art, it fills up again with something else, like morning glory vines on testosterone. Or rather, I fill it up again with something–anything at all, except making and promoting my art! I’m starting to realize that the good is often the enemy of the best. These distractions are often good things in themselves, and they are even more seductive if they’re paid. The only person to blame is myself–why do I give away my studio time, and why don’t I value my artistic gift? I say I believe that my art is my gift to the world, my way of giving service, but I don’t really live it! I need to take Frederick Buechner’s words to heart: “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”
So why does it feel so self-indulgent? Why do I feel as if I just dragged my finger through a chocolate espresso frosting and licked it? At the root is fear, I’m afraid–up to this point, I’ve preferred the clutter and distractions, the frustration, failure, and envy, so comfortable and familiar, to the unknown journey through the dark wood towards becoming a successful, full-time artist. Which brings me full circle to today’s knit at the bench. I enjoyed chatting with the two guys who came around to inspect the sewer. I asked the younger guy with earrings what he does for fun. He said that he makes mountain bike trails…”Kind of like what you’re doing,” he said. “Yes!” I said, “blazing a trail!”