In my quest to understand why I continue to resist the calling to create original works of art in service to others, I discovered Steven Pressfield‘s books the War of Art and The Artists’s Journey: The Wake of the Hero’s Journey and the Lifelong Pursuit of Meaning. Discovering Steven’s work was initiated by a series of dreams I have been having since abandoning my art practice over twenty years ago to pursue a passionless career in “the real world”. In these dreams, the Muse arrives as a renown artists offering words of advice, or expresses disappointment in my lack of confidence and courage to trust what I have always known to be true: I am an artist. But what is it that the universe is trying to express through me that has yet to be realized? Who am I meant to serve?
In this dream, I’m in a bar that used to be named Gallagher’s in Waitsfield Vermont. (At the time that this dream occurred, I had just stopped playing live music with three other local musicians due to “creative differences”.) I’m tuning my guitar near the back of the stage when the neck of my guitar starts bending backwards. I’m in a panic trying to correct the problem before the bending breaks all of the strings when I see Tom Petty and Jerry Garcia on the other side of the stage. It’s then that I realize that I’m the opening solo act for the musical legends which intensified my anxiety. “Hey, girl,” Tom said, “Don’t let us old guys intimidate you.”
I’m waiting on a train station platform in what feels like France for northbound train. I’m craving a cup of coffee but am thinking about tea. A woman wearing a watch cap beanie and oversized pea coat sits next me. I shift myself a few inches to the left to put more space between us when I realize the woman is Patty Smith. “You’re Patty Smith!” I said. “I very much enjoyed reading your book M Train, and I’m sorry about you losing your camera.” She quietly thanked me and then said “What I’d like to know is why you stopped writing poetry for your guitar.”
I’m walking with my guitar strapped to my back through a maze of tour buses, pop-up tents, and vendors. I am disoriented as to which direction to go to get back to my campsite, beginning to worry about the safety of my unattended art supplies that I’ve left in my tent. As I round the corner of a tour bus, I see Flea from the band Red Hot Chili Peppers sitting on the ground, disheveled and dusty from a wrestling match he had just had with Anthony Kiedis. Flea was trying to roll himself a cigarette but is using twigs and grass instead of tobacco for the filling. “Is there anything I can do to help you?” I asked. He replied “Don’t you have a painting to finish?”
Be well, stay healthy. And thank you for your continued support of independent artists!
In the 90 plus days since my last post, much has happened in our world, and to each other. A seemingly unending global pandemic continues to rage as we mourn the loss of lives, of loves, and belief in the certainty that “everything is going to be alright” because “this too shall pass”. But there really is a light at the end of every dark tunnel and we can step into it if we just keep walking.
We walked four of the nearly six mile hike, stopping frequently to marvel at some of the graffiti and mural work of various artists. I pondered the treacherous labor involved in the making of the tunnels and laying track that many Chinese immigrants endured leading up to its completion in 1867, and wondered what they might think of the artform.
We turned back after walking through the most inky darkness I have ever experienced. I was unnerved by the complete absence of light and shuddered in the cold eeriness of the moment. Rather than turn on a headlamp to dispel the fear tingling the hair on the back of my neck, I let myself feel the fear and kept walking forward. Ten steps letter, we spotted the first thin slice of light which then multiplied into twenty, then into the light at the end of the tunnel.
For more complete information about hiking the Donner Tunnels and other historical places worthwhile of exploring, I highly recommend checking out a few of my favorite resources for other recreational activities in the Lake Tahoe region:
We found the untitled work in the garage when we bought this house. Wrapped in black plastic, it leaned against a wall with other leftover materials and bric-a-brac that we inherited. I was thrilled to discover it, and immediately moved it upstairs to my work space for safe keeping and daily appreciation. Whomever the artist was, we shared in the value of redeeming what would have otherwise been discarded, destined for the landfill or recycling center.
My attempts at converting reusable material into works of art doesn’t always result in a piece worthy of framing, but the process is cathartic.
Delicate clusters of aromatic blooms on the back yard garden’s Meyer Lemon tree.
Life may give you lemons, but what you do with the zest from the lesson is what dictates the outcome.
Staying positive in times of uncertainty and turmoil can be tiring, but my determination to keep my optimism and sense of humor intact when faced with difficult situations has, thus far, endured. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given to overcome challenges, fortify my courage, and comprehend the lessons that are meant for me to learn.
The purple Anemone I planted in the garden last week recovered from the recent torrential downpours that we were blessed to receive. The rain drenched and delicate petals reflecting the afternoon light bolstered my resolve to be less of an enemy to myself so that my art practice and creative purpose has a stronger chance to more fully bloom.