I’ve been putting this off for some time- writing my first entry into this creativity journal. I’ve been feeling afraid that actually, I may have nothing of substance to say. Afraid that I will let myself down, and expose the reality that I am, in fact: not creative, not fit to be a creativity coach, a fraud, directionless, bound by fear, along with a multitude of micro-emotional states that support these claims.
That said, here I am, sitting down to actually write. What gave me the courage to overcome those fears? I would say, primarily, what helped most was recognizing my common humanity in my experience. Yes, I am unique in how my issues have arisen, continue to emerge, and how they present, but in this problem, there is a common human experience. In fact, this shared fear of having nothing to say, or that what you say is not meaningful, poignant, relevant, or valuable is central to the process of making art. It is a pivotal mystery, question, and point of debate when discussing art in any of its myriad forms. Artists the world over have wrestled with these questions for centuries, if not millennia.
My father had a fellow sculptor friend named John. They would get together occasionally and discuss art. My father lamented to me- “Every time I go to John’s he always wants to talk about ‘what is art?’”. Though he lamented, he and my mother continued to go meet with John over coffee and discuss this meaningful question. I imagine that John was wrestling with this fear (as was my father). The question of “what is art” is often linked to this aforementioned fear- “is what I have to say meaningful?” Artists want to know that what they do matters, that what they have to say is important, valid, and/or has a place and is meaningful.
Approaching this fear, tackling it, investigating it, massaging it, befriending it, alienating it, embracing it, destroying it, is where art is born, lives, and dies, and again is reborn. I believe, that the act of sincerely approaching this fear as an artist will create art that is meaningful, disruptive, beautiful and controversial. Because, when an artist puts something into the world, ANYTHING, it is a brave act, especially when it comes from a place of genuineness, that reflects their own reality. It is a proposal to the world; it says, “Chew on this” “look at this” “ponder this," “disagree with this”, “fall in love with this”, ”poke holes in this”, “become infatuated with this”, “resist this”, etc.
If this fear was not present for creatives and artists, I argue that art could lose all meaning- falling in to a chasm of insipid, grotesque indulgence and decorative masturbation. Is this assessment a bit extreme? Perhaps, however, this fear is what keeps art alive. For me, it pushes me to explore further, to reflect on my process more, revise my statements with rigor, and to strive for more genuineness, originality, and authenticity. At best, it keeps me on my toes, though at worst, it can be immobilizing. Remembering that the fear itself is meaningful and that it is a common human experience releases me into the great, pregnant void of possibility.