Because I trust myself, I trust the other.
Distrusting the other,
I question my own decision to be
where I am,
sharing relational space,
thus distrusting myself.
The other represents an experience I chose,
a relationship I created,
and in doubting the integrity of my creation
I cannot help but doubt the integrity
of myself as the creator.
I trust I knew what I was doing
in the act of creating any given relationship.
I choose not to doubt it, holding an understanding
that choosing to embark on a creative journey
means choosing to be surprised,
and that choosing to enter into
the creative relational process with another
is the antithesis of drawing up a contract and codifying the specifics:
true creation inevitably moves into the unknown.
Were I only to have relationships within the sphere
of what I already know and understand
there would be no newness, no discovery,
no great learning.
It is by trusting the creative impulse
that moves me to enter
into unknown relational spaces
that I am able to stay calm
when the relationship travels
beyond my comfort zone.
By choosing to trust the people in my life,
(most especially when the territory of that relationship
becomes unfamiliar and the more fearful bits of me
begin to mutiny)
I choose to trust myself.
A Life in Review
Each of us wanders
through a gallery of our own artwork,
appraising with a critical eye
and speaking in third person:
“Ah yes, excellent choice of pigment there.”
“Interesting textural changes throughout this piece,
I’m not sure I agree with these sensibilities.”
“Bah! What was he thinking here?
The tone is all wrong,
none of this fits together!”
Every painting is a relationship,
and as we wander, spouting
praise, condemnation, validation and aspersion,
we also linger in the wings
as the artist,
with every offhand remark.
Ourselves as the artist trails invisibly
behind ourselves as the critic,
vigorously nodding our head:
“You’re right, you’re right,
that one is very good...”
“True, so true! I don’t know what I was thinking,
I should have known better...”
“I know, that ones terrible, I know!
It felt right as I began, but it was too ambitious,
I should have stuck to what I’m good at...”
Meanwhile the critic adheres to his old way of thinking,
the artist wallows in self-recrimination,
and the spacious potential symbolized
by the most unique paintings,
those ones which look nothing like
any of the others and cause the critic
to come to a stop and stare, wondering:
“What is that? I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
...this spacious potential of new self-understanding
remains wholly unexplored.
Through the critic’s smallmindedness,
the artist is forced to invalidate the inspiration which led
his creativity into uncharted territory.
What a tragedy,
to doubt the wisdom
of our own muse!
Let us bolster the spine of our artists!
Chin up now, courage high -
keep your gaze steady at eye level
and emerge from the wings to greet your critic
as he stands bewildered in front of
one of your wilder designs.
Nod politely in salutation,
then take his hand and describe to him
what you were feeling as you began to paint.
Talk about the excitement, the adrenaline, the fear -
how your heart raced as each brushstroke
was laid intuitively on white canvas
with no expectations,
no idea what would come next.
Talk about the times when you paused,
at a loss as to how to move forward -
when you yourself stepped back to
appraise your work and thought
“Shit, this is no good...
I have no idea what I’m doing.”
Talk about the deep breaths you took then,
in those moments,
how you reminded yourself that yes,
you do indeed have no idea what you’re doing
and that’s the point:
what you’re doing is called trust, curiosity, exploration.
Guided by intuition
to a cliffedge of creativity
you took a leap of faith and jumped,
trusting that you would learn how to fly on the way down.
Talk about how it isn’t finished, this painting -
how it’s a work in progress
and perhaps always will be.
Invite your critic to look at it again,
with an attitude of inquiry,
allowing his eyes to travel along the composition slowly.
As he does this,
tell him about your muse.
Describe your inspiration,
how it comes in a wave and propels you
forward off the edges of the map
then sometimes seems to disappear,
leaving you floundering in deep water.
Speak to him of the times in the past
when your faith has paid off,
when you decided to keep going.
Allow the joy you felt then,
the joy you felt when you were reunited
with your muse on the far shore
of the opposite side of the ocean,
to creep into your voice,
so that your critic may glean some
sense of what it is
to reap the benefits of faith.
Do all of this kindly, and courageously.
Then offer to take your critic
out to tea to continue the conversation,
and tell him you could always use
a second opinion.