Friday, May 4, 2012

Spirit: Proclaim Yourself

Just as with my body, my spirit has been battered, neglected, and abused lately. I feel that some of my life force has been drained. To put it succinctly, I feel lost.

Some how in the rush that has become life, I have lost myself. Life is chaotic and the demands on my time and my energies seem to have become greater with each passing day, and unfortunately so many things are being neglected and forgotten. Much to my chagrin, these are the things that are most essential to me, and I feel that a part of me has slipped away. I am caught up in habits that diminish who I am, and roles and expectations have been placed on me that eat away at my spirit. If I do not proclaim who I am, others will lay claim to identifying and labeling me. They will continue to place the roles and expectations on me. I must shake off these attempts by others to define me. I must find myself.

But how do I find myself? How do I proclaim who I am?

I have to stand up for myself, say no to the things that diminish me, and perhaps step on a few toes. It’s easy to ruffle feathers when you step out of those identities others have placed on you, but I have allowed others to define who I am for too long. I need to shout out, ring out, and sing out so that I can be heard. I must find the courage to reclaim those missing pieces and make the time and the room to cultivate who I am deep down.


There it’s out there. I’ve proclaimed it.

Everyday I need to do this and not forget who I am. I need to proudly say that I am an artist when someone asks me what I do. Too often I go for the easy and comfortable, “I’m a teacher.” I often even leave out the fact that it’s art that I teach like some how art and teaching art aren’t valid. But teaching is only a part of what I do and who I am. Even if I did not teach in a public school, I would still teach. I would still share my art, my thoughts, and my methods. Teaching is just a small part of being an artist.

Being an artist means more than simply making art. Yes, I make art. I draw, I paint, I collage. But these activities do not truly define me. I am an artist deep within. It is my core. I have always been an artist, and I was an artist before I was defined by any roles like teacher, husband, friend. It is the artist that drives me. I am inquisitive. I am curious. I am creative. I experiment. I explore. I think and reflect. I am brimming with ideas and stories that need to be expressed. I see the world as an artist, and everything that I experience goes into my reserves and becomes fodder for making art and expressing myself. And every experience, every relationship, and every moment is experienced as an artist. I can’t go to the theater without marveling at the stage, the scenery, the visual spectacle. I can't go for a walk with out noticing the colors and the shapes and the textures of the world around me.

I make art because I must. When I am not making art, I am sharing my art, teaching about art, and writing about art. But too often when I am not making art, I deny myself, cut a part of myself off, and deny my spirit. Too often I sit in front of the TV or waste time and energy with Facebook, email, and other technological distractions. Art feeds me, and in art I am not LOST. I find myself in every mark, every stroke, every color.

I am an artist, a maker, an expresser of personal things. Now I must carve out that identity. Live it. Breathe it. Stop denying it by distracting myself with so many things that do not matter. It is my core, I must treat it just as vital to my existence as food and shelter.



Erin Keane said...

Excellent post. I especially love the declaration of being an artist. I've really enjoyed your revelations in the past few posts--daring, and cleansing, and hopefully life-changing for you.

Eric said...

Thanks, Erin. I'm trying to get into the habit of posting 4 or 5 times a week. I just want to share. I just want to put myself out there, and I haven't been doing that lately.

Autumn Hathaway said...

Awesome post. Please know you have inspired more people than you know. So when you do have those times in front of the t.v. or computer, be kind to yourself and say it is okay.
Because you are still an artist while doing so.

Eric said...

Thanks, Autumn. It means a lot to hear from people.

tgarrett said...

A moving heartfelt post. I have often thought of these things- I also sometimes tried to define it as Art as a way of life- seeing and living art- I look forward to your new book.
We just moved to a different house on 20 acres of forest- I am living a dream! I taught art for 36 years and like you I always will- this place is big enough for me to teach workshops!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. You are the real deal.

Eric said...

Terry, That's great about the new place. I can't wait to have a studio big enough to teach in. My studio right now isn't all that conducive to teaching, but it's great for making. Thanks for all of your encouragement.