I’m taking the One Little Word class by Ali Edwards at Big Picture Classes. It’s a year-round class and you can start anytime. Every month on the 1st you receive your prompt challenge for the month. A group of class participants are using their blogs to share their thoughts on the month’s topic. To see all my posts listed, go to the top menu bar under “Documenting Life” and click on One Little Word.
(there is no project… just some thoughts. i won’t be offended if you click onto the next blog.)
Art Journaling. The project for the month. My word for the year? Authentic. This month I have felt quite separated from my word. What does the word even mean? Does one have to bare their soul and expose their true thoughts on their deepest secrets to be authentic? Should I not exercise caution? Why do I try to fit in and keep my beliefs to myself to avoid judgement? Maybe my view is right? Maybe my story and experiences are true. Maybe someone could learn something from me. Maybe I don’t want to be hated. All these thoughts have been whirling around my head all night, all month, all year, all my adult life.
Last week I posted a quote on my facebook. I should frame it really. It was:
“Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.”
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Ultimately, I fear rejection. I fear people not finding me credible. I want to be taken seriously. I don’t want to be misunderstood.
I’m kind of sick of hiding.
20 years ago tonight (Halloween), River Phoenix died. For reasons I don’t care to go into, the news changed my life. Ever seen the Tower card of a tarot deck? That’s how my life felt. That year of my life was an opportunity for growth as a person and an artist, and I think I botched it. I still don’t know how to fix that.
(here is a pointillism drawing I did of River Phoenix off of a magazine cover. I’m pretty sure doing a drawing of a photograph infringes on copyright but I didn’t know that when I was 19 and it was for an art class project.)
I watched Glee tonight. I’m not a regular follower. It was the tribute episode for a star of the show who recently died of an overdose. There was a scene where the cast was singing James Taylor’s Fire and Rain. It made me cry. It took me back 20 years and made me take stock of where I am in life.
I had a brief discussion with my husband before he went to bed. I was telling him about my beliefs that I rarely share and how I don’t know how to walk the tightrope of an authentic life. When he went to bed, I went to get a comforter to sleep on the couch as I have a chest cold and need to be propped up to actually sleep. While searching for the blanket I came across some old diaries. I grabbed some to see if I had written about my life 20 years ago. What I found was not what I was expecting. Over the years I’ve glanced at the pages. I guess tonight my eyes were open a little wider, or my brain was a little more receptive, because I noticed something very interesting. First, a little back story.
I went to art school in 1993. I was young, just out of high school. I had an instructor who taught me how to “see” and draw. It was a useful year but it was difficult as the man scared me and I rejected most of what I had learned. Now, I am seeing things a little differently.
On October 23, 1993, I wrote in my diary:
“… There’s still time left”.
” Time for what, Ray?” I asked.
Ray was silenced. He was thinking then he spoke.
He said “Magic.”
He said that there is time still before the Magic is snuffed out and the world needs light. Something vaguely like that. He also said that I am him when he was young except it took him longer, 20 years longer, to get into the art studio.
He said that it took him a long time to realize that other people don’t feel, think, or see the way he does. He says I have to stop trying to be like everyone else.
So what if people think I’m eccentric. They will learn from me, even if its something seemingly stupid, they’ll learn.
When I read this it stopped me in my tracks. It took me 20 years to understand what he was trying to tell me. I guess I didn’t listen because here I am still fighting that battle. I have not lived up to my potential as an artist and it saddens me. Wasted years. All because I wasn’t authentic. I’ve been playing this game of trying to please others. Trying to get external validation. I’ve been hiding my magic.
I stopped drawing and writing poetry in my late twenties. It was too hard to be “normal” and “creative” at the same time. I had to pick one or the other. I decided to go with normal. Or my version of it, anyway. So, slowly my dreams became foggier, and my creative ideas fewer. I paid a price for my normalcy.
People say Halloween is the night where the veil between our world and the otherworld is at its thinnest. No doubt. I feel empowered and honest. It’s an overwhelming feeling. I’m sure tomorrow I’ll shrink back a bit. It is uncomfortable being authentic and I like to feel like I have both feet firmly planted beneath me.
So what is it I even want to say? What is the best way to express myself? Where do I begin? I would like to end the year knowing I have made peace with the word Authentic. I am not there yet.
If you need to start at the beginning, please go to Lee’s blog.