There have been so many times in my life to this day that I have reached a moment of decision and then agonized over what is the right thing for me to do. Whether this relates to making art, family or any other life situation it always comes up the same. What do I do and what direction should I go? In a world where gaining the approval of others begins at birth we can experience a fog of indecision at the very time we need to have clarity and resolve.
We are taught not to be selfish and others must be considered as we navigate through the maze of life decisions that will most certainly find all of us. When making art what we see is a microcosm of life itself. It is a series of decisions that culminate in an end. As artists we train ourselves to expect this process and develop our own ways of choosing to bring us to where we want to go. We do have an internal GPS system for this very purpose and where I want to explore considering that this is possibly our greatest tool in life and in art.
If we take the idea of feeding ourselves it becomes very apparent the mechanism of choice that dominates this process. Let’s first assume to narrow down the discussion that all the food we can choose from is good for us. But within even that we will have foods that we will be drawn to and others that we will repel from. It plays out automatically and with complete ease if we think about it. I ‘love’ to eat such and such. It is one of my favorite things to eat. I ‘hate’ such and such. It makes me sick to even think about eating that. We have a sensation system that is so automatic it almost becomes invisible to us because it is so connected to the core of who we are. I love this. I hate that.It reflects us at our essence. When making art we actually do the same thing. It is our like/dislike equation that guides everything that we do and decide both in what we make and what we see in other people’s work.
Because there are no direct ramifications to anyone else in the 2 examples I just presented we fully accept with ease the process of arriving at what is good for us. When we enter into the involvement of others in this process the earlier stated issues of being selfish and having to consider others rises to the surface and often distorts our pure internal GPS system. We now care about what others will think of us. How will this affect this one or that one? We start the process of questioning our self and turning a critical eye to the conflict between what we want and how it will affect someone else. The system is still there intact but this approval mechanism has just gotten in the way. We each must find ways to resolve this as it confronts us but one thing that has proven itself over and over is that when I ignore myself and tilt my decisions to pleasing others ‘first’, I am rarely if ever satisfied or happy with myself and what comes from that choice. My experience has been that at the most critical moments of my life I had to be willing to stand by myself and take the full consequences of that whether the issue was about my art career or in my personal life.
While we would want everything to be cut and dry and black and white in art and in life it is not. There is even an art to making choices. To prefer yourself and to know what is good for you might be the greatest form of art we can know and that makes us all artists if we allow it. Beauty, authenticity and accomplishment evolve out of this in my opinion. Art that is real. Life that is real and growth that is real can be the only outcome of committing to this process each day. Just possibly paying attention to what we each love and hate is the path to our own happiness and development.