Kathy just left for Albuquerque and the airport and a return flight home to Massachusetts. What an amazing three days we’ve had. Our conversations were deep and challenging, our art stirring within us both.
How to make artful lives is an enormous issue for most of us living in this culture, how to earn our livings as artists, even more so. And yet I believe most of us yearn for just that. Those of you who have communicated with me as a result of this blog, as well as people I met in the gallery through the season, seem to want to know that it’s possible. I’m here to tell you it is. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy, nor is it always a straight path.
Kathy has been seriously looking at this issue for sometime now. Meeting me just brought it closer to the surface. Her trip here was, to some degree, made to consciously examine the puzzle of her work life and her art. She has graciously agreed to let me publish her notes, sketched in an effort to get clear before coming together with me. I suspect many of you will recognize yourselves in the questions she poses. I thought it could be instructive just to know you are not alone and to be, in this way, a part of another’s process of coming to her art.
Notes to myself during the flight from Hartford to Dallas-Fort Worth
From Jeane’s blog, which I read just before getting on the plane:
As we think, so we become….
I am happy that I am doing my job but I am not happy doing it.
The question is: Can I find ways to keep my soul alive, to do my art, while doing this job?
Can I be true to who I am while giving so much of my life away?
How much does my soul need to stay alive?
Can I make the space to provide it with sustenance and not merely play a waiting game.
Can I justify partial starvation, fairly long term, until I can retire.
Will I have any life—creative life—left if I do that? Will I have squandered what I have? Or will I be able to satisfy the part of me that needs to be practicing my professional skills and building a means of retiring to a different life. Or does one necessarily defeat the purpose of the other?
How much can I do—while writing on the periphery—to develop my skills as a writer and to hold on to my dreams, not passively, but actively, to be genuinely engaged with my creative self, listen to it, protect it?
If I am not willing to let go of the life I have now, can I still be true to the part of me that needs to live a creative life?
I believe I can—want to believe I can—but only if I manage to establish and preserve boundaries and create space for my personal work that is neither expendable nor negotiable.
Jeane here again: It really is a privilege to be privy to another’s thoughts about this very challenging life question—how to be true to ourselves and still earn our livings (you don’t want to even get me started on why and how I think the structures are in place to discourage this very vital way of being). I remember having so many of the same concerns and thoughts when I began to understand I was going to have to leave my corporate job.
Kathy doesn’t have answers yet. But she’s asking the right questions. And she has a supportive partner who listens and will help her reason and sort things out. She also knows that whatever she decides, however this all unfolds, it’s all good. And I know, one way or another, she will find her way to make her art.
Love to you all,