what art is teaching me

The thing I like about surrendering myself to art is how much growth is happening in my non-art self. I will be the first to admit I have always been a reactive judgmental fearful self loathing bitch. I'm sure all those people I gave their weekly massages to didn't think that. They all made comments about if there is a heaven I will be there. They had my undivided attention and what little morsel of love I had to give; they looked forward to that one or two hours away from the job and wife/husband, kids, where they could just be selfish and have someone knead away those rocks of tension in their backs. I obviously had conflict since I would rush off to a bar or lock myself in my house and drink til I blacked out several times a week. I can't blame the massage job, I drank as soon as I got out of high school but that's another story.

Since becoming an artist I have had to have more 'normal' interaction with people. Before I was a massage therapist (which also wasn't normal since they fell asleep or it was all about them) I worked the strange jobs that your typical anti social deviant type tends towards...delivering pizza, janitor, restaurant cook...the kind of job that you were up late, partied til dawn and got up after noon if at all. I didn't have to be nice to people, we were all jerks consumed by our pathologies to suck down as many pills, smoke, or fluids as our bodies could take. I was more of a binge person and could manage fine for weeks without getting obliterated. We didn't have relationships with each other as much as substances. The last few years in Arizona before I hit the road towards the unknown I was much more mellowed out, still had my lips locked over a bottle of something at times but for the most part I was already searching for who I really was but had limited exposure to people. I don't think I have ever known how to be or feel comfortable around others. We all have our ways of healing. Believe it or not I feel like mine has been accelerated by art and the people I have met because of the art.

Sure I'm still alone most of the time. I still struggle with liking and accepting my self. I rarely see people, I have maybe one real friend other than Tod out here in Vermont and a few friends from Arizona that keep in touch here and there. Strange as it sounds I have this little inkling that one day I will have lots of people in my life, I have no idea what that will look like but it is something I feel. Until then, I am learning still how to just accept myself and accept others. That's where the art and healing comes in. I think to make art and keep making art it is imperative to accept. I've noticed I've had to, and still have to, keep opening the door wider and wider to allow all that acceptance to come in. In the beginning you have to accept that this is what you want to do. This is what you are doing. And then you submit your art and DON'T get accepted. You have to accept THAT. I should say 'I'. So, I had to accept failures and mistakes and frustrations over and over and I couldn't run from it or else I wouldn't have kept making art. I suppose I could have done what I usually did in life and said fuck it, but I wouldn't accept that because I wanted to make art and wanted that to be my life. There have been and will still be times I think I have just created the coolest thing in the world, and I carry it swaddled like a baby, present it and get a grunt of disapproval. I have to accept that, adapt and move on; meanwhile the art sits there like that patient wise loving animal waiting for me to come back to it. I'm not working on it as much as me.

The act of making art stretches my sense of self and well being, but it is the interactions with people that I meet because of the art that really expands my self growth. I'm still new at this art life. I've never looked at art and thought much about it. I have a pretty eclectic taste and it is easy for me to look at most art and give that grunt of disapproval. It's probably human, sum it up and categorize it and toss it aside. If you take in everything you can't possibly handle it so scan it fast and try not to let it bog you down. Here is where some healing and growth is really taking place, just because I might not care for what someone else creates, that doesn't dismiss the person. I'm guilty of that. I mean who has time to look at every body's art and take it all in? When you've spent most of your life hating yourself how are you supposed to even like anyone else let alone their art? And then the hammer hits me over the head. Then I get it, or am getting it. People are pretty good. We are all out there swimming in rough waters and doing the best we know how. The people I would think would want nothing to do with me write me and send kind words. The people I think would judge my art, find things to say about it that surprise me. One at a time I'm learning through you guys it is okay to disagree. It's okay to voice an opinion. It's okay to not understand. It's okay to do what I do and be who I am. Something is jabbing at my side saying see? People are real. People are kind. People don't think you have three heads and are frothing from every orifice. They don't have three heads either. I find myself looking at other people's art with a different point of view. I read their blog and have more of a sense of empathy for what they are experiencing in life. From the tidbits they share about themselves I can see that their art reflects some inner energy that is looking for space to breath. Who am I to judge that? It helps me see that I don't have to love their art but I can like it for what it is or not. I either connect with it or I don't. There is room for everyone. That is what I'm slowly getting. It's a big big thing for me to get.

I'm beginning to see that there is a much bigger picture out there. I'm sure this is very rudimentary for you healthier humans, but hey its my blog and I'll blog what I want to.


sarala said...

As if everyone else is healthy?
I'm glad you are finding camaraderie. Good post!

*mo said...

"People are real. People are kind."
how amazing that so many people,me included, take so long to realize this (if ever). i was watching oprah this afternoon (don't roll you eyeballs, please!!) and maya angelou was on & i love that woman because she speaks from a place that seems so remote to me, though i have some newfound faith i'll get there..anyway..you said it as she did (oh..you're getting there!)..which is we're all just people. and she said that basically, we're pretty boring...in this "normal" basic way...on the whole we're not that different from one another no matter who/what makes it seem like we are. recognizing that really helps me some days...like today. all i think is..hey...we're in this together. like it or not. so we ought to just try our best to love one another.

self taught artist said...

thanks mo for sharing your thoughts and maya's. i wonder why it is so hard for us to remember we are basically all the same,quantum physics tells us this and we forget or just dont feel it. why is it so easy to diss others, do we really need to feel better about ourselves ALL THE FRICKIN TIME? i watch oprah too sometimes (shhhh)

Lisa said...

Excellent post! Your writing is so incredible. Thanks for sharing your stuff.

I sometimes think that what I learn from art in other parts of my life is sometimes more valuable than the art itself.

self taught artist said...

thx lisa, sometimes i feel very vulnerable and not sure about sharing all this, its great to get feedback like this.
so right about the learning in other parts of life being more valuable than the art itself!

Daphne Enns said...

Good well written post P. Sounds like you're riding a good wave.

And I promise to write back today about last weeks email. I've been otherwise detained by my own low mojo...