Friday, September 5, 2008

Recovering A Sense Of Integrity

Today it was pouring rain like it hasn't poured in a while. It wasn't just pouring rain, it was pouring cats and dogs and horses and frogs. Sounds good to me, especially when I am free to have a five-hour lunch with a friend of mine. Gosh, I never knew that not going to an office Monday to Friday could be this much fun. I am planning never to have to go again. She brought me a lovely book about the creative process, The Artist's Way. Together with The Creative Habit, this one too is one of the most respected texts about the artist and the challenges associated with art, no matter the type.

When I returned home, I plunged in as I often do when I have a new book, intoxicated with a sense of expectation and newness that only a new pair of shoes ever gives me. You know when you find that, at your darkest hour, you really weren't alone at all, because many others, hundreds, perhaps millions of people have gone through your same feelings? I was both flabbergasted and elated to read this in relation to discovering your artistic integrity:

'Shifts in taste and perception frequently accompany shifts in identity. One of the clearest signals that something healthy is afoot is the impulse to weed out, sort through, and discard old clothes, papers, and belongings. [...] By tossing out the old and unworkable, we make way for the new and suitable. A closet stuffed with ratty old clothes does not invite new ones. A house overflowing with odds and ends and tidbits you've held on to for someday has no space for the things that might truly enhance today.

When the search-and-discard impulse seizes you, two crosscurrents are at work: the old you is leaving and grieving, while the new you celebrates and grows strong. As with any rapture, there is both tension and relief. [...]

Be prepared for bursts of tears and of laughter. A certain giddiness may accompany sudden stabs of loss. Think of yourself as an accident victim walking away from the crash: your old life has crashed and burned; your new life isn't apparent yet. You may feel yourself to be temporarily without a vehicle. Just keep walking.'

You'd be excused to think that this is perhaps a book about surviving loss and re-finding yourself after a period of upheaval. Yes it is, if you think about yourself as a repressed artist that has fought long to reach something as elusive as a sense of identity, both as a person and as an artist. It is a good idea to look at the issue from a perspective other than one's own; The Artist's Way does just that.
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