Every week I (Raynna) ask Jay, “What are you learning? What do you want to share?”
Every week our conversation gets vulnerable and he jokes that perhaps we should stop before he starts weeping and wanting to sing Kumbaya.
Because we often break out into Kumbaya.
Hashtag, not quite.
But it’s true, looking at soul stuff is dangerous, it’s challenging. It almost always involves facing thresholds, obstacles even, that we can’t see the other side of from where we are currently standing. And that invites all the what ifs. And, honestly, it’s easier to laugh and move on than feel like your head might explode.
So what were we talking about? The harder thing — harder than learning how to be an artist, how to draw well, how to paint well, write well, make music well etc. The harder thing is learning how to be who you are. Not your style, not your stories — you.
Your style as a creative person comes out of this. Your style is an expression of who you are, but it is not the core. You could even call your style your skin. It’s close, very close, and it’s so connected, but the deeper thing is you. Who are you?
It’s worthy of our time to ask ourselves what do we want to be known for and to let that work us backwards to the question, “Who am I?”. This allows us to be present and intentional about our creativity. This will translate. But sometimes we have to start even closer to the surface. Good questions to start with:
What do I like?
What do the things I create and like the most tell me about me?
What do I find continually resonating with me?
What do I do or create that finds resonance in others?
That last one, any of these really, can feel painful if you feel that there is no answer, but we don’t have to be afraid of it, because that is an answer. It’s a place to begin. It’s a place to ask, “Why?”.
Why am I not finding resonance (don’t read likes or popularity here, that’s a separate issue).
Am I really bringing myself to the table?
Am I bringing my fears and listening to what they are telling me?
Am I allowing myself to enjoy?
Am I bringing honesty, willingness to be wrong, or imperfect?
Fascinating to me is to watch Jay be continually drawn to and create “unfinished” looking finished pieces of art. He likes to see the scratches, the splatters, the process. To him, this feels alive, immediate, present. Makes sense right? But what he has told me many times is that this has often felt like a fault in him.
However, it makes me smile as I realize how clearly this shines a light on and mirrors who he is. He is a person who needs to be ok with his own imperfections and unfinished places if he’s going to keep creating. He needs to know he is in a process, that he is growing, to know he is alive and to keep going. If he were to be too harsh or ungraceful with himself, he would quit.
He is hungry for growth so he looks for evidence of it, that everything isn’t staying the same. This is also part of why he teaches and encourages others to grow. He needs to know nothing is in its final form, not even him.
Without fully thinking of it he even created a story wherein the hero (Klausen) sees through the hardened outer shell and calls out to the truth of the inner being, showing the way to transformation. In a sense you could say his own struggles, bring out his best strengths. I’m glad for it too.
In truth, this is true for all of us. But we need to engage these questions about ourselves with kindness, a gentle light not a harsh one to see how this is playing out inside of us, and how it makes each of us tick in our own unique ways.
If that’s hard to do, ask a friend to help. (There’s worse things than getting teary, holding hands, and singing Kumbaya ya’ll.) Worse things like your own sphere of people missing out on who you really are. You are needed and important — struggles, strengths, and all. True story.
We’re not saying anything new, but every once in a while it’s good to be reminded that if it starts to feel like your head might explode — it won’t. It might let out a little steam though, and that’s actually not a terrible thing.
Do you know about our 14 Commitments for Artists to Cultivate Inspiration?
Remember creativity is a muscle. Create, be happy, create more.
Thank you everyone for your support! From being a part of our community, to sharing these posts, we appreciate you!
Have a great weekend everyone,
Jay & Raynna
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