"It's not the job of the artist, the writer, the musician to play nice, be positive, make pretty or sing praises. She may do all those things or none, but the real job of the artist, the writer, the musician is to draw out those images, those words, those notes which tell a Truth. The job of the artist, the writer, the musician is to hold up the mirror and show the world what Is as she sees it."
I'm restless. Winter has swirled in with driving full force, dripping snow and dipping temperatures. I'm between teaching jobs and between tapestries. Truth be told, I never know if there's another paying gig or another piece of weaving in me - each last one feels like The Last One. I've tossed my net out into the Universe. Now, I wait.
There is a tapestry waiting for my attention. The loom is warped; the cartoon is in place. I've spun the yarns. I'm not ready to begin weaving, yet. This latest idea is intense and she's not pretty. She's inspired by my experiences with the Renew for Cancer classes I teach, but she refuses to play along with conventions about "fighting cancer," "being a warrior," and other ideas which have served out their time. She's personal and she may never see the light of day, although something keeps whispering, "Let her out."
Last night, on "Checkup Panel," on CBC National News, Dr. Danielle Martin called for an end to the "militarization" of cancer. She suggested that, instead of talking about "battling cancer," we begin to think of "living with cancer." The 3 medical experts on the panel presented thoughtful, realistic approaches to the treatment of cancer. They cited statistics and dispelled myths. They spoke truth to what I witness in every Renew class: many of us are not interested in fighting anything, especially not our own bodies. We'd much rather focus on healing, on learning to live with life as it is presented to us, whether that involves cancer or any other lesson which every one of us will encounter as we walk along our paths. We're tired of being told how to look, how to live and how to feel. We're looking for a way to just Be. It's this discussion to which the tapestry in waiting speaks. She won't be an easy weave, if she's woven at all.
When you're caught in a struggle, adjusting to the end of something and waiting for the birth of the next thing, it's easy to become frustrated. The rocks on your path may appear as one great, impenetrable wall, rather than individual challenges to be surmounted. When I've had enough of stillness, of waiting to discover whether I need to go over, around or through the rocks, I turn to other forms of creativity.
Today, it was painting. I chose acrylic painting, because I haven't a clue how to do it. (Google was my friend.) I had old tubes of paints, a few brushes and a number of small canvases tucked away for travelling. I hauled them out, cleared off my weaving table and played. I slopped paint, tossed water on my canvases, rubbed out spots with towels and made a mess. The result of an afternoon's work was two tiny paintings. They're nothing to champion, but that's what makes them important. They're pure play, unattached to outcome and I know this is the process that will eventually tell me how to proceed in my latest struggles.
Years ago I designated my fibre room off limits to negative thoughts and behaviours; it can be a challenge to stay with that, but it's an important rule to follow. Thoughts come and I allow them to flow, but I don't chase them. They aren't the way through the rocks. The way through the rocks is to release my usual perspectives, to shift my focus until a bit of light flashes through the cracks and shines the way to an opening for a clearer path. When that happens, I'll know how to proceed, whether it's with the new tapestry or new work.
If you're a creative being (and who among us isn't?) who finds herself in a crisis, personal or artistic, I suggest trying something you're not very good at doing, then do it. The way through a crisis is not to sit and weep at the wall of rocks. At least, it isn't for me. The way through that wall of rocks is to sit, wait and then use the rocks to build something new. Ugly, pretty, good, bad - the words are judgmental. The work itself is not. We're glorious messes of humanity. Go make a mess.
|"Winter Light" 12.5 cm x 17.5 cm|
|"Galaxies" 7.5 cm x 7.5 cm|