Sunday, November 17, 2013

Journeying On

"Life is a journey, not a destination."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Creativity is also very much a journey.  Sometimes you can't tell where it will take you.  Although I am not a particularly process-driven artist from a media standpoint, I approach my conceptual art as a process.  I don't always know where an idea will take me or what concepts I will find myself wanting to explore.  I try to be fluid and not judge what I want to say before I've had a chance to express it.  In fact, some of my strongest ideas go against what is traditionally celebrated and presented as art, offering alternative perceptions into what art is and can be that would never have occurred to me if I hadn't been willing to see where those ideas led.

In this practice, I don't tend to self-censor well.  Sure, I make artworks that I consider better or worse than others.  But I also recognize that my judgment of what is "good" isn't always reflective of everyone, as is evidenced by how many works I've sold that I'd thought were sub-par.  And I don't tend to stop myself from trying something before I start because I question the integrity of the idea as to whether or not it is "good".  Going with the flow can be a benefit, and can take me to places I wouldn't otherwise have gotten to.

It can get me into trouble too, though, in both my art and my life.  Being so journey-driven and not apt to focus can leave me at the mercy of the ride, where I find myself a passenger and not the driver.  I struggle with being scattered and disjointed, running all over the board but not really getting anywhere.  I can't always describe how I've gotten to where I am, or even where I've been, which makes it difficult to relate to others.

So the journey can be lonely & isolating - I often feel adrift & misunderstood, and I struggle with censorship by others.  Because I don't self-censor well to question what is and isn't appropriate, I open myself up to harsh judgment & criticism, even bullying and ostracization.  When confronted with things that rattle their cages, push the envelope & reevaluate taboos, some people can become outright vile, especially online where there is a sense of anonymity.  Again, I am at the mercy of the ride.

We live in a very goal-oriented world and people don't always know what to make of someone who doesn't fit into this.  So it can also limit others' perceptions of what I can accomplish.  Not having a specific focus is too often equated with a lack of drive, poor self-discipline, laziness...  Lacking a sense of destination can limit what I am capable of because the expectation is lower, inhibiting opportunity.  And even if expectations aren't lowered, it's easier for others to follow along when you have a specific end in sight.

But it is possible to embrace the journey and still have drive & passion about what you are doing.  Hyperfocus isn't all good - being too goal-oriented can mean not even being aware that there are roses along the way to stop and smell.  Neither extreme is ideal, and I know I need to strike a better balance between the two so I feel more in charge of the trip.  I guess it would help if I had a better sense of where I wanted to go, though.  Many of the common goals presented to me (money, fame, etc.) just don't hold that much appeal...

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