This is part of a series of posts all titled “Conversations On”. They come from emails between a dear friend and I. With her permission, I am publishing excerpts from them because I feel they pertain to this blog. Kate has been in the process of trying to figure out how to be a writer and still maintain her teaching job. She has very recently decided she must leave her job and fully embrace a “writing life.” At her request I’ve changed her name and am using initials for people she mentions. Those of you who have not read any of the earlier Conversation pieces may want to go back to have a better understanding of Kate’s progress. You’ll find links to her story below. It’d be great if you all would join our conversation…
All photos below were shot by Kate on her visits to New Mexico.
I didn’t feel you were being critical at all. In fact I really enjoyed your thoughts. I felt like we’d already begun our joint project and, of course, we have.
I wrote this post for you, as a kind of heads-up that all will not be taken care of by leaving your present work. I believe you already knew that. However, I believe to the fiber of my being that it is a significant step toward the answer.
When I first left my job I carried intense fears that I wouldn’t be able to keep painting, that I would stop again, that I would have left everything for nothing. These fears haunted me for a years. You and I are artists. We are meant to live our art. Spirit is making that point plainly to both of us. This artist’s life is truly hard, but it is also stunningly rewarding and growth-producing. It’s true it’s not for the faint-of-heart, but we are lion-hearted.
As you know, you will carry you into your writing life, as you are meant to. I’ve found facing myself to be a very different experience when done from within this creative existence. Self-discovery is nurtured and examined in my paintings as it will be in your writing. The troubles that have always dogged me still hurt, but they are so more accessible and real. This way of living makes evolution possible. Even if you transfer your issues from your current life into your writing life, they will be different. You will change to be more available to face them, to look at them, to study them, to heal them. I know this will be so, but you will still hurt, as I do. You are human.
I feel this holding back I have done is because a part of me believes all of this that I carry, the despair, the depression, the darkness, the fear, the neediness, all show weakness. My survival instincts have guided me to hide weakness as all prey animals do. It is an enormous challenge to admit them to myself, to you. Loving the injured me means having to admit to the existence of that part of me—something I’ve never been willing or able to do—but it is the next frontier. All growth stops without it.
Yes, there is no way we can authentically live this life and continue to hide. You are right, it is a blessing and a curse of living an artist’s life.
Yes, I’m much closer to the despair. I think everything you write about this is exactly right. I’ve been facing myself and healing in layers, becoming stronger as I get closer to the quick. You understand this all so well. I believe this is Spirit showing yourself to you: showing you that you are ready, that you already understand and are prepared.
I believe pain is a necessary part of joy. Jane Siberry says in a song, Calling All Angels, “If you could, do you think you would trade in all the pain and suffering? Then you’d miss the beauty of the light upon this earth.” I think the vital parts of our lives are lived upon the edge of that blade. As painful as life has been lately, I am deeply satisfied.
You haven’t misinterpreted anything. In fact you have honored me by writing out your own feelings so very beautifully. Please always say things that come straight from your heart without censoring them. I believe you’ve begun your writing life before fully exiting the other.
Thank-you for all the energy you’ve given to me today. I appreciate it and understand it is a precious commodity these days.
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Love to you all,