A Big Life: Encouragement for People in the Arts –
Two dogs knocked me down by the side of the road. One did it out of friendliness and the other out of meanness. Yet both started biting and eating my back. “Surely someone will stop to rescue me,” I reasoned as I lay there.
A car went right past me without stopping.
After a bit, I realized I needed to get up all by myself or die, so with tremendous effort, I rose and yanked the dogs off my back.
Okay, that didn’t really happen to me. It is something that I dreamed. But the symbolism is obvious, isn’t it? Fend for yourself. Don’t count on anyone. Rescue yourself.
Or is that the message? Maybe the people in the car didn’t see me lying on the road. But what if they did?
Some people are just jerks.
Living with the uneasiness of life and having a fistful of friends, relatives and professional connections who might love you and then leave you is hard. It’s a balancing act to trust that there will always be someone there who has your back and doesn’t just want to eat it.
My whole life has been filled with dreams like that. Sharks under my house bumping up against the floorboards and threatening to break through. Dinosaurs wrecking havoc on the lower floor of my hotel. The same potential threats and rewards are all around us all the time in waking life. Sometimes I feel safe and sometimes I do not. Yet whether I feel safe or do not feel safe has little bearing on whether or not I really am. So what’s the answer?
I am not sure I have one.
There are lots of spiritual and psychological practices that help. There are also practical ones to know, like the number of the fraud line at the Department of Justice and even better, the swift action the Attorney General will take if you just pick up the phone. (If you didn’t know that, write that down. I learned it late in life.)
I am still learning to trust the friends I have, to be compassionate with them and yet be willing to stand up to them if things go wrong between us. I used to think, “If there’s a problem, I caused it.” Those days are gone.
The truth is that everyone has a perspective. In the painful year or so since my mother died–something which has been so much harder than I ever thought possible–I have continued to learn many things including, “What would it mean if the problem wasn’t me?”
As to what this has to do with being an artist, I don’t know. Except that artists need to have perspective. Both in visual art and when creating characters.
And I have to remind myself of my own.
Note: Thanks, friends for bearing with the long wait for a blog post. It doesn’t mean lots of lovely artsy professional things haven’t been happening. It’s just been a difficult time.