“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.”
― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
I thought I was autonomous already?
When I think of the word autonomy, I often think of a child old enough to go out on his/her own to play without mom or dad around. A teenager taking their first bus ride to the city, or taking responsibility for their younger sibling while the parents takes a time out. I think of babies eating on their own, or a kindergartener tying their shoes with pride! Never once have I thought to apply it to myself as an almost 47-year-old, and especially not tie it to the artist in me! I thought I was already “autonomous” .. but maybe I wasn’t yet..
Julia Cameron, in week 11 of The Artist’s Way, speaks about “Recovering a Sense of Autonomy”. I found at first, this was probably one of the most boring chapters (sorry Julia) I had read throughout this journey, however, taking another look at it again, for the 3rd time, I imagine it was resistance I was feeling and not boredom.
Because I fail to do the work. Or, my ego thinks I do. I wasn’t brought up in a family where art took first place, business did. My father, whom I love and adore, is a pianist. He’s been playing piano since he was a child. My grandmother had bought the piano for my aunt, but it was my father who played with the keys and self-taught himself. At 14/15 my father started a band, and later became very popular in his circle. His band, won the Battle of the Bands and they were going to make a single! Alas, they never did.
After awhile, family came and my father chose to forego his dream and become “a nine-to-fiver”. The love for piano never left his spirit, thus, if he showed up at your house with a piano adorning your living room, my dad would be playing before one can say “doyouwantadrink?’. As he played I , observed him carefully, and, fell in love with him every time his fingers magically brought out the music I literally adored. I wanted to be him, I wanted to sing with him. His piano playing gives me much joy to this day!
His choice to leave his dream to raise his family the “conventional” way, became ingrained in me. I am grateful to my father for working so hard, however, I always wonder what it would be like if he did make that record. Would I be here today? So thanks dad!
This is major in the eyes of a child. Now that I am working on my own art (writing, photography and photo-design and intuitive dream readings) am I being responsible?
Right now, while on sick leave from the work I know I will not return to, yes. But what if I quit my job and I wasn’t ill, would I still be a responsable adult?
Maybe, maybe not… It would depend if I could really go at it and bring in the income my family needs to survive. Here are a few excerpt of the chapter I noted were important to remember:
- I must learn that as an artist my credibility lies within me, God and my work. In other words, if I have a poem to write, I need to write that poem – whether it will sell or not.
- Creativity is its own reward.
- To a large degree my life is my art, and when it gets dull so does my work.
- As an artist, I must be very careful to surround myself with people who will nurture my artist—not people who try to overly domesticate it for my own good.
- As an artist, I may frizz my hair or wear weird clothes. I may spend too much money on perfume in a pretty blue bottle even though the perfume stinks because the bottle lets me write about Paris in the Thirties.
- As an artist, I do not need to be rich, but I need to be richly supported.
Julia states, sometimes, we insist on the “straight and narrow” path when it comes to our artistic work and income, however, she concludes that the artist path is a spiralling one. Always creating, always integrating, round and round we go. As we grow, we create more art, we write more, we paint more, we cross the threshold and take bigger risks.
This is where I am at.. Time to put my big girl pants on and take the bigger risks. And this my friends, is scary. Is it time to finally write that children’s book I’ve been dreaming of? or time to publish all those poems I wrote? Or, is it time to take those lovely photos I take and create art with them. Maybe someone wants to have them on their walls, or on a t-shirt. Maybe just maybe, I can make greeting cards.
So hopefully, as I continue to become a responsible and autonomous artist, I can generate the necessary to live the necessary. Not that I want to be rich, but also to do it even though I may not even make a cent! Because, if I don’t I will kill what I have nurtured over the past year, thus, never knowing how amazing I can really be.
And one day, I can say to my dad:
“Hey dad, look at us.. artists in our own right!”