Last week I dragged my busy butt down to a mineral springs resort and spa for a getaway with my dear friend, Kelly.
Conveniently, the getaway coincided with a discussion I had with one of my coaches about the need to create more “space” in my life.
Since that time, which hasn't even been two weeks, I have found space not only in soaking in the springs, but also in embracing silence; seeking questions rather than answers; and saying No.
Kelly and I also found space on the road. The trip down to the springs should be just over 5 hours. We somehow turned that into 7+ hours.
There are people who see the dot on the map and race toward it without stopping for a restroom break. And then there are those who, like me, look for any diversion to learn or to be entertained along the route.
I tend to explore on my road trips. I have been caught:
- Coming across a newspaper from a nearby town and rerouting the return trip because it might be an ideal place to retire. (It wasn't.)
- Visiting the local cemetery.
- Driving out of the way because I heard on NPR about the “green” rebuilding of Greensburg, Kansas ten years after a devastating tornado and I wanted to see it. (It's pretty cool. I'd go back! And I'd eat again at this Mexican restaurant where they were lovely and one of the few places open on Memorial Day.)
- Veering an hour off the interstate to see a visionary artist's creation.
Yeah, I could get there faster if I focused on the dot on the map, but where’s the adventure in that? I prefer the stories I can gather along the way – stories that will become part of the fabric of my life forever.
What stories are you gathering?
Your Career Journey
Your career path is marked by exhilarating highs and devastating lows. I wish I had learned earlier the wisdom in riding the waves rather than fighting against them.
When you seek shortcuts, you miss out on opportunities that might lead to bigger rewards.
When you have your eye only on the end goal (the dot on the map), you become blind to all that can enrich your art and life.
I contend that if you aren’t committed to the journey of your career, you surely won’t be satisfied with the destination.
Of course, the journey isn’t all roses and fairy dust. It’s messy.
What You'll Encounter on the Journey
Let's get the bad stuff out of the way. Among the artist’s lows are:
Rejection from shows, grants, residencies, and buyers.
Doubts about your talent.
Criticism from others and, worst of all, yourself.
Anxiety over lack of <income, opportunities, recognition, … >.
Discomfort with making bold moves.
Impatience with your pace of progress.
Confusion about your next moves.
Frustration with yourself and the system.
Overwhelm from all that is possible.
They all suck. I’m pretty sure you have experienced every one of these downers, but the danger is when you find yourself swirling in a vortex of self-flagellation.
You can’t afford to wallow when you’re committed to your art. Your art needs you.
And … you understand that the rewards, which really do exist, are the brighter half of this journey. Your highs include:
Validation that you're doing the right thing.
Acceptance by your audience, other artists, juries, critics, and curators.
Utter bliss when you do your best creative work.
Understanding when you find your tribe.
Pride when your friends and family show up at your first solo show.
Appreciation from students and your audience.
Recognition from the art world.
Love of what you do every day.
Accomplishment because you went for it.
Remember these potential rewards when you find yourself questioning your commitment to the journey.