This past weekend, I made a last-minute application for a show in Victoria, one that I didn’t really expect to get. That’s not my modesty talking – I’ve been turned down a few times, and although my portfolio contained my best recent work, it all felt a little rushed. The paint was literally still drying on one of the works.
I confess to being a little taken aback by this success. While I am apparently the sort of person who fantasizes about being successful enough to afford a studio assistant to wash my brushes and make sure I do not confuse my mason jar of tea with my mason jar of linseed oil, I also find it genuinely difficult to visualize circumstances whereby this might actually happen.
Nevertheless, I feel like this unexpected success is offering me a lesson, and I am going to obnoxiously share it with all of you, unsolicited: don’t wait until you think you are ready, before you begin. On the one hand, our time on this plane is so, so fleeting, and on the other, we have every opportunity to re-invent ourselves. We have the capacity to change direction mid-stream. This is not a new idea: Elizabeth Gilbert covered this notion extensively and eloquently in Big Magic, and Julia Cameron offered a blueprint in The Artist’s Way.
Dear friends, take a moment to imagine all of the ways you can shine light into the world: photographs and essays and graffiti art and slam poetry and drum solos and dances and improv and pyrotechnics and organic farming and culinary mastery. Place your light where it might be visible, and give it room to grow – whether you believe yourself to be ready, or not.
An addendum: all of this diving in wholeheartedly and headfirst absolutely neither applies to nor includes dating, or any other assorted “feelings” business. You can put that shit off forever – especially if you get cats. The only problem with cats is that they don’t really help with the dishes, and a fair division of labour is generally preferable where life companions are concerned. On the other hand, cats offer a healthy balance of independence and adoration, and they don’t pass judgement when you stand up at the kitchen counter to eat your breakfast of apple crumble with paint on your face. It’s all compromise. But I digress.
To sum up:
Brace yourself – give yourself permission to fail greatly
Create something that brings you joy
Set it free into the world
Adopt a cat (optional)
The results might delight you.