Sunday, February 28, 2010
How do we view life? People tell us very much about how they view life by how they live their daily lives, how they treat others, and what they do with their time. The Wright Brothers may have seen it as a grand adventure in which one could go beyond the limitations that were part of widely accepted belief. The same could be said of Edison, Galileo, Harriet Tubman, or any other visionary human being that refuses to stand still just because everyone else is. This is the great gift, goal, and life pursuit of the artist or creative person, who has the potential to expand the vision of others by expanding his own.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Gratitude List for today: I laughed at least once today, I got to to see friendly, smiling faces, I got to hear beautiful music, I saw the joy and wonder of imagination at work, I got to see the good work others are up to in their lives, and I got to see the incredible sweetness in the smile of a child.
What is it about organized color and organized sound that people are so drawn to? I'm speaking of art and music, of course. All of an artist's years of study and practice, of learning structure and theory, and history, of studying the masters, of experimentation, of viewing/listening to other artists, still doesn't make for a great artist/musician. The most vital ingredient to great art/music is still missing. Why is it that we can listen to two different performers play the same piece with equal amounts of skill and years of study and yet one fills our hearts, and the other doesn't? The same can be said of painting - we can appreciate the level of skill and technique of one artist, but the other one makes us want to be INSIDE the painting, and we've forgotten all about looking for levels of skill and technique. Mozart said it best when he said "Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius."
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Have you ever noticed that when we grow and develop and mature as individuals it seems to upset the people in our environment who don't want to change and grow and who aren't interested in developing themselves. And conversely - those others in our environment who ARE interested in growing are spurred on in their own lives by our growth and development. They suddenly become more interested in their own growth, whereas the lazy person becomes more interested in controlling the one who is changing and growing.
Some people think that discipline is a dirty word. I understand only to well how we learn certain concepts in life through our own experiences and frames of reference. But if we apply "discipline" to the thing we want or love, all it really means is sticking to a regular schedule with it and making it just as much part of our routine as everything else that we do daily or weekly. Why is it so hard for some people to commit to even 15 min. a day at their instrument, or computer, or medium of art?
Thursday, February 18, 2010
If one is to be creative it's important to know what destroys, so that it can be kept at bay. If the mind of the artist is at once expansive and visionary, then its enemies are selfishness and pettiness. An inner atmosphere of peacefulness, calm and joy is cultivated to encourage the creative flow.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
a poem by R.L. Sharpe
Isn't it strange
That princes and kings,
And clowns that caper
In sawdust rings,
And common people
Like you and me
Are builders for eternity?
Each is given a bag of tools.
A shapeless mass,
A book of rules;
And each must make-
Ere life is flown-
A stumbling block
Or a stepping stone.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Being an artist means allowing yourself to experience/vew life in your own unique way, regardless of how many opposing views assail you. It means trusting that you may see or hear something that is not immediately apparent, and not to brush it over before you've allowed that "artist" to have it's voice. It requires patience, and training the eyes and ears to look for what's not obvious...like a reporter looking for a great story. The question should arise "what is unique, special, extraordinary about what I'm experiencing this moment (the moment of inspiration) that gives me material for expression in my chosen art form (music, dance, fine arts, writing, etc..). One cultivates the attitude that every moment holds a special gift for me...something to dance, write, sing about. It teaches one to appreciate what a gift life really is, and to not take one moment of it for granted. This moment is soon passed away to be replaced by another...The artist trains himself moment by moment in the art of appreciation...
As an artist/creative person, we may have a vision of how a creative idea/project should go. Sometimes, though, we may find that the project has taken on a life of it's own, and the finished product turns out even better than we imagined it. These can be magical moments for artists of all kinds when we look or listen to our work and think "wow where did that come from?" There's a certain receptive waiting involved here where we invite this something-greater -than-myself to transform our work. It requires patience, and sometimes it means not finishing something right away to allow for this possibility of transformation. We, as a society tend to be very product-oriented, and in a hurry to produce something - anything just to have something to show for ourselves. I wonder how many masterpieces were in the making, but never came to be, due to impatience...?
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
It is very, very hard to forgive yourself when you keep making the same unconscious mistakes in life. It may be the hardest thing to just say "well I thought it would be different this time" - though there was no prior evidence that it would be. This is the wrong use of faith I think to blindly hope that a situation that has proved a poor choice in the past, would somehow be different this time.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Pursuing one's dreams/goals can require tremendous effort and sacrifice sometimes. It's so much easier to take the path of least resistance. Or is it? Either way we pay. If we do what's easy instead of what we know is the act that will move us towards our goal, we end up feeling less than satisfied. If we pursue the dream, we often have to move out of our comfortable box, and make those hard choices. It's easier to stay where we are and not face the fact that we never really gave ourself the opportunity to move forward in life. We live in a sort of half alive, semi-conscious state where we're not really completely true to ourselves. That "easy" state comes with a price - we give up our dreams...
People's lives are filled with as many different kinds of challenges as there are people. These "challenges" or obstacles all seem to get in the way of what we want to do. I wonder if there's another way to look at them as being "material" for creativity rather than something in the way of what we're trying to do. It's sort of like viewing everything in your universe as being there for the sole purpose of providing you with something to paint about, write about, sculpt about, compose music about, or even change your thoughts about, etc. Everything in our world (personal or otherwise) can be experienced as a gift - whether it's a reminder to be a little kinder to ourselves and/or others, or to appreciate our environment more, or to keep our inner environment in an uplifted state - there are an endless variety of experiences/opportunities that can serve as "messages" from life if we can remember to view them that way - in other words -view life with thanksgiving - look for the "gifts".
The phrase "we're all more than the sum of our parts" runs through my mind as I think about my life, interact with others, and stay creative. The challenge is developing those "parts" within that need it so that I can become "more than the sum..." The weak areas require all my time and attention, but if I persist they will one day become strengths and voila! I have become "more than" through the process - my vision of life (mine and others) has expanded. I begin to see what's possible for self and others.
If we as individuals don't realize the importance of living a life of balance, life will teach us. Unfortunately we often don't get it's message until we're very uncomfortable. This principle of balance applies to alot of things in life. We can see the ignorance of the importance of this principle in events such as the recent oil spill in the Gulf. Individuals who understand the importance of balance in nature would take greater care with the power they have to insure it's safety. It's more obvious when it's close and involves personal excesses such as eating or drinking too much, etc. The body tells you through the feeling of discomfort. Or even mental/emotional imbalances such as worry, stress, fear, anger, or overwork resulting in tiredness - the list goes on. The point is - if we pay attention we can avoid alot of these imbalances that affect not only our own lives, but those around us. The artist has a wonderful opportunity to share his/her insights on balance in their work. A painting or piece of music itself can be a study in the beauty of balance, and can inspire and uplift the heart.
If you've done everything you can think of to correct what's gone wrong in your life, then focusing on what's good in life can be extremely rewarding - looking for the beauty and goodness in others (when possible), in animals and nature and really APPRECIATING them/it. If you've ever been in a dark or dismal environment (inner or outer) for an extended period of time, focusing on the good in life builds inner strength. It can start with something as small as viewing a bright flower in a city of concrete and steel, or the sound of the ocean that stays with you even when your far away from it. Some of us already know this but don't practice it, others have heard of it, and some are just learning...we are all teachers/students of life...
To live creatively, or as the artist, means to be able to see life in a way that others don't. The artist can take into his/her inner vision the extremes in life - the comedy and tragedy, lightness and darkness, without losing his/her viewpoint. This ability to see life in a certain way doesn't occur just while engaged with brush and paint or whatever the instrument of choice, but rather is cultivated every moment as the very essence of oneself.
Every moment is a moment to make a new resolution if one is looking to improve some aspect of his life. One needn't wait until the new year to do so. In fact one can begin new resolve, every week, every day, every hour, every circumstance, every minute. We can begin a new viewpoint by saying to ourselves "Happy New Moment!" with heartfelt joy...
This post is written with thanks in my heart for all the artists (especially you dear readers) who have contributed to my life with their beautiful work, stories, and life messages. You have all - each in your own way - helped keep me inspired, appreciative of the beauty around me, and well - just glad to be alive. So thanks - all of you!
Isn't it amazing how much resistance there seems to be to change - to trying something new? We are like machines that run smoothly until someone or something in the environment throws something into the works that is unfamiliar or that the mind is unable to process due to lack of experience, and our inner censor begins to do whatever it can to continue the old way of thinking, acting, being, even if it's in direct opposition to the new way that we ourselves have instigated. This creates more conflict - convincing us further that the old way is better when in fact we haven't really given the new way a real chance to show it's strengths.
For couples, commitment is a key ingredient to the success of the relationship. But what about commitment to our own learning process? How do we measure our own success in life? One of the definitions for commitment is dedication, devotion to a cause, person, or relationship. Life is full of relationships of all kinds - but maybe they are all learning tools - in a way - to learn about how to live better with ourselves and all life...
Monday, February 1, 2010
In order to really connect with our listeners/viewers (I'm talking to the artists/musicians/writers/actors) we have to know what people feel, and how they experience life...ie what motivates, inspires, saddens, and brings joy to their lives. The wider the range of feelings (and types of people) we can understand (and not just intellectually), the greater is the range and depth of empathy we can put into our craft. How does one develop empathy? All too often it is through suffering. One has only to look at the lives of some of the great artists (musicians/artists) to see what is being said here. Examples such as Beethoven who went totally deaf and was unable to hear one of his greatest masterpieces, and Chopin who's ill health prevented him from fully enjoying life, and Van Gogh who's inability to handle the subtleties of life drove him to severe imbalances, and the list goes on...countless artists (generic) who were in a way learning to develop compassion through their suffering, and to put it into their craft in order to transform their own experiences and at the same time reach out to others - perhaps unknowingly - who might need the benefit of the music/art that was created thereby.
The response I received from my last post made me realize even more how important it is for people to be creative in their lives. It can be something as simple as preparing a special meal for a loved one, or creating the next artistic masterpiece of the century (whatever that might be!). People are just plain happier when they are being creative. There are many aspects to fostering creativity - one can start where one is and branch out to the areas that are more unfamiliar, but four areas seem to be key: love, right attitude, a willingness to try new ideas, and keep practicing what's already working.
A life with no challenges is a life with no growth. I always like the old metaphor of the seed trying to break through the heavy soil to become a strong, thriving plant. New projects can be like that, especially when we have a nice comfortable routine established for ourselves but want to add on, or in some way develop the creative project we're working on. What at first seems tremendous effort, eventually becomes the new routine - but it does sometimes require considerable initiative at first. It reminds us to put a limited value on being comfortable in life. It certainly doesn't last for long if we're growing and staying creative. And, it is, after all quite satisfying to see the fruits of our labor.