3/5/09

exerpt part II of 'The Art of Finding Me' memoir

Click here to read Part I of my memoir I wrote last November. These posts are the final pages of the memoir, I decided to post them as I feel they are relevant to who I am and where I am at and also to remind myself of the journey since the last month has felt so stagnant and icky.

Making art slows me down in a good way. I have always been one to rush through everything. I still have to watch myself sometimes, to remember to slow down and let things happen naturally and not push it. Look, I'm not doing anything earth shattering and I'm certainly not the most amazing artist out there, but I know the process IS amazing, the outcome not always so, but the process always. For the first time in my life I can do something and more often than not, not worry. Not judge. Get lost in the moment and just enjoy the ride. In the beginning I had to finish the piece the moment I knew what I was going to do. I had to figure it all out in one chunk of time. I had to put it together as fast as I could and get it up there on the wall. That is no longer the case. In fact I am almost the exact opposite now. I will do just a little and leave, or stay with it and explore other possibilities with just a little less urgency. It is in the space, just like as in music, it is the lack of sound that makes you notice the melody; so too in making art it is the lack of doing that allows for more to happen. Time away lets me think about how I can better construct it. I take as much pleasure and interest in what goes on behind the scenes of my art than what is obvious to the viewer. Those were hard lessons to learn but fortunately that first gallery I got into was willing point out my flaws and allow me to take the art back and redo it so it was better constructed. It should be as beautiful on the back side as the front in my mind. Beautiful perhaps in a different way, but beautiful nonetheless.

I'm finding myself. There is an art in that if you choose to view it that way. God knows I certainly haven't viewed it as such until recently, let alone found even a speck of who I really was. There are probably as many ways to 'find yourself' as there are people. I'm not always proud of the things I have done in my life. Rarely am I graceful or eloquent around others. Far and few are the times I feel I have been truly kind and non-judgmental. I have lived my entire life in a capsule of fear, judgment, self loathing, anger and hate. I have tried several times to destroy myself and something just wouldn't let me take it to the end. Luck or stupidity has kept me here on earth and while there have been plenty of times have I attempted to find the real ME, most of the time I only found more misery. The search for the person that isn't afraid, who isn't judgmental, doesn't condemn everything and everyone, that search has only recently begun. That search has been ceaseless, tireless and mostly a complete failure. How could I have found the real me hidden under so many layers of dysmorphia? Of a lifetime of self abuse and genetic crud?

I’m finally done looking back. I honestly give my past little to no thought save for whatever happened a year ago or less. It doesn't seem to serve me anymore. Any lessons that I have learned used my past as a stepping stone and those stones are now buried under fresh soil. It is impossible for me to imagine my life the way it once was. I cannot fathom living with so much pain and distress. I realize that I was about as lost as you can be in life and still have freedom. Admittedly I still feel lost. I have no idea where I will live next, let alone how I will afford to live somewhere else. I am getting tired of living under someone elses' roof and have to keep reminding myself that this wont last forever and to use it up, use it all up while I can. The space, the time, the privacy and beauty that surround me on a daily basis is something that I should never take for granted. I have no idea how I'm going to make it, or what that will look like. I worry sometimes that I am kidding myself thinking that I'm going to really make it as an artist with the plethora of competition that is out there both in the real world and online. But the point was to find myself. To find out who I am and what I desire in this short time I am on this earth. When I remember all that I gave up in order to get to this point I know that life isn't the set way that we all make it out to be. You really can go towards something without knowing how you will get there, and in my case what exactly it really is. I know without a doubt that I am an artist and if I can continue to trust myself enough to keep moving in this direction that I will get closer to whatever 'it' is that I'm searching for. I know there is no end, not while you are alive, not if you are always searching and striving to experience the nectar that is life. I know it can be sweet and wonderful, I know it. I guess I did find myself didn't I? It was through art, to art, in art. Because of art. The journey towards art took me on a long road with many faces and places parting the way and lending a hand. It's pretty damn miraculous when I stop and take it all in. It's my own mini dream come true that I came out the other end, alive, happier and able to create art.

Because of art tod and I are still together as the best of friends and partners in life. We have somehow managed to work out a way to live with each other and be comfortable with however strange our relationship may seem to others. We aren't a couple in traditional terms but we genuinely care about each other and have a bond that goes beyond our selves. We have no idea most days about our life, but we still feel like we have enough similar interests and desires to keep moving forward together. I've never had anyone support me the way he does on an emotional level, I guess that isn't completely true. My homeopath as been there since day one, never tiring of me, never enabling me, always mixing the right amount of advice and remedies together to bring me closer to my true self. I have to do the rest, people can only take you so far but it sure as hell helps to have someone you can trust be there in the good and bad. It has been a true gift to have someone to look for scrap with, someone to stand there in the rain holding an umbrella over me while I fumble with my camera and tripod. How can I second guess myself when I have someone standing right next to me jumping for joy when I sell art? Someone who travels to scrap yards or auto yards on his own in another state while visiting his mom just to find me shit to put on my RR plates? Who else would do that? Who else would let me take over nearly every square inch of our living space with MY art and My supplies and My tools? He is as obsessed as I am. He brings me home scrap while he is out there driving that damn cab all over Vermont. He got himself out of debt and has spent hundreds of dollars on my art to show support and give support so I can continue working with as little interruption as possible. That is above and beyond what anyone could hope for, let alone ask for.

And even now, I still don't understand 'art'. What it means for me to be an artist other than the learning and the joy it brings me. I've yet to jump to the next level of really living the life of someone who feels empowered by their trade, by themselves. If I could be half as trusting and creative in my real life as I am in my creative life I wonder how different it would look. As it stands, without even trying too much I find myself living in such a way that few could comprehend the freedom I have. I don't wake up at a certain time each day or have certain duties I have to perform. More often than not I do whatever I want, which is go work on my art. Day in and day out. Whether it is online networking, marketing, taking pictures of my work, cleaning new found objects or searching for more. Not a day goes by that I'm not doing something that is directly related to art. I often think that art is my lifeboat and I just gotta hold on and allow it to take me wherever it wants to go. Maybe that’s the art of finding me. Allowing myself to be taken on a journey peacefully, not kicking and screaming and to trust myself and trust life. We all die. We all suffer. We all have demons and challenges in life yet some of us endure it with more grace than others. That is my biggest hope for myself, that I may live a life that is free from self recrimination and fear. If I work on that, just as I work on my art, one day I will get there. If I can live my life the way I work on my art, with patience and peace, with acceptance and interest rather than kicking and screaming half the time, maybe I will get there. Maybe I’m already there and I don't even know it. It is the journey and not the end isn't it. It is an art. Finding me.

8 comments:

Margaret Ryall said...

There are many wise understandings expressed in this post Paula. I'm only commenting on one of them because it hit a cord with me and I think it is so important for the "doers" of the world to remember/learn/contemplate ... it is the lack of doing that allows more to happen. I have come to accept this as true and it wasn't always so for me. The pause, both mental and physical, allows you and the world around you to come into sync. This is especially true when you are creating art.

Kim Hambric said...

"If I could be half as trusting and creative in my real life as I am in my creative life I wonder how different it would look."

Could it be that your real life and your creative life are one and the same?

Would that be a good thing or a bad thing?

If you are not a trusting person, can you just change that? And besides, it looks like you are trusting of Tod. While you might not be able to trust art to provide you with the money to buy all your material needs (at least not at thing time), you trust that art is the greatest part of your life.

It is the journey. The end is just death.

It is not my goal to sound profound. It's Saturday. I think I'll go watch cartoons.

self taught artist said...

i like that part too margaret :)
and kim...how you go from that to cartoons makes me smile. and yeah i trust tod more than i've ever trusted another person, and i'm starting to trust myself so that will flow into the whole life soon.
if my creative life and real life are one and the same, i wonder why i live them in segments and one is so much more receptive....

Karen said...

Very brave Paula. You trust so much more then you give yourself credit for. Trusting enough to share many of your hard edges with us here in the blogosphere. I find your evolution so inspiring. Your words mirror much of what I feel sometimes. as for living a life free from self recrimination and fear, well, seriously, how boring would that be...snicker....

self taught artist said...

thx karen, anyone who takes the time to read my denseness and feel inspired by it is appreciated and in turn lifts me up as well.

Philip said...

To me life is a constant journey and if one is not on some kind of journey then I think that one is not really living. The worst thing for me is to arrive at a destination! From what you describe it seems to me that your life is as good as it gets even if you don't see it that way. We all have a unique shape to our should and we should cherish that. That is who you are and you are already there and always have been.

Philip said...

... unique shape to our soul and we ...

self taught artist said...

philip
i'm finding the healthier i get in my head/total self, the more i can appreciate that journey. sometimes though its nice to not always be going or doing or changing or growing.