My painting “Grand, Extraordinary Measures Are Your Only Chance”
“We can be content with where we are — but that doesn’t mean we should be there,” my friend Chance said yesterday. We were having one of those rambling phone conversations that touches a number of topics and sparks a lot of future thought.
Both Chance and I were experiencing a similar type of breakthrough over the weekend. I found myself for the first time introducing myself as an artist — and actually showing people photos of my work. This is something that has, for whatever reason, mortified me in the past. I don’t know why — but I’m sure it was a combination of things — fear of seeming arrogant, fear of having to prove myself, fear of being unworthy.
Chance had played a piano gig and, for the first time, not fought or dismissed compliments he received after the show. Instead of rushing home, he allowed himself to linger — which led to him meeting more people, making connections and possibly scheduling more shows with new musicians.
During the past few years, I have found myself experiencing certain emotions more often than I would like — including bitterness and jealousy. I believe that these emotions are fed by a lack of self-respect or self-love. We tend to think it’s egocentric or self-indulgent to be too kind to ourselves. Of course there is a limit, but I think that it is actually key to take time to show yourself a little love.
This can be done in a number of ways. Having enough respect for yourself to say “I’m an artist, because that’s what I love to do,” seems incredibly basic — but it can be a challenge. Having the ability to say “thank you” instead of shooting down a compliment can be equally difficult.
I am trying to regain control over my days, my emotions and my thoughts. Taking five or ten minutes here or there to do small things can make a huge difference in battling that haze that comes with constant, busy days. Making the things I love to do — painting, reading and writing — a priority instead of an after thought is also part of that process.
In the past, I was content with being lost in a whirlwind of work and social obligations. My time for myself was hitting the gym and walking my dog. If I finished every chore, I would allow myself to paint. I didn’t even make time to sit down and read. I would sneak in two pages in a novel before falling asleep.
Only recently have I tried to put on the brakes and make an effort to own my time more — and as a result, I find that the bitterness and jealous feelings have faded away. I have become a better listener, more present in the moment and able to enjoy small distractions that might have seemed annoying in the past.
And like Chance said, just because we have become used to feeling or living a certain way doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take time to examine our choices — and make moves towards a change for the better.