Tuesday, April 16, 2013

306/365: Seeking Purpose as an Artist

One of the greatest things I'm learning through my 365 challenge is to create joy inside of myself, regardless of what is happening outside of me. This is no easy task, but I've found that it helps to separate myself from things that are out of my control. I don't follow the news very closely anymore. I'm wary of media coverage of a world that makes little sense to me. It's not that I don't care about my community or my world enough to be up on current events. It's not that I turn a blind eye and pretend the horrible things aren't happening. Cutting myself off from it at this point on my journey has helped to release a lot of the anxiety and confusion. I've simply chosen to focus my attention on what I can control for now: on being a good person and meeting the most basic needs of those close to me.

But the news of school shootings, terrorist attacks, endless war and natural disasters find a way to seep in. My husband relayed the news of yesterday's Boston Marathon bombing. My Yahoo feed shows snippets of stories of the people affected, articles labeled "graphic photos." I cannot bear to open them. My heart aches for the innocent lives that are torn apart. I tune out and try to contemplate the color and composition of my latest piece of art, but nothing comes of it. My chest is tight and I feel sick to my stomach. My art seems so unimportant today. All I can think about is holding close to me those most precious and being grateful for the inumerable blessings I have in my life. I know so much art could come from this if I knew how to translate the emotion into visual forms. I know art could heal the anxious and unfocused feelings to some extent. But there is an undefined resistance to happy paint colors today, or any kind of paint colors for that matter. So instead I write.

I hear the news and I feel disappointed, numb, and strangely selfish. I tell myself it's nothing new, just a different population in a different location under different circumstances. The world has been this harsh since the beginning of time. I don't like this disconnected attitude, even thought it protects me. It does not sit well with my view of myself as an empathetic and compassionate person. I know one day it could hit much closer to home where I may have no choice of how to perceive things.

Today, it all makes me question my choice to see the world through rose-colored glasses and to carry on with endless optimism. To spread "whimsy" as if it matters. To busy myself with growing a more creative and joyful life while others suffer and have so few choices. What is it all for?

I feel called to find a greater purpose behind what I consider to be my "gifts to the world." I always have been. This is one reason I was so drawn to teaching, but now there is a new layer of myself that I must find a way to weave in. How can I use my voice to help? How can I use my art to heal? I know it is helping and healing me. My creative life holds significance for me, no question, but could I use it to contribute on a more profound scale?

I want to connect with humanity without connecting to all the unnecessary suffering that leaves me feeling numb and helpless. Is there a way to use the things that matter most in my life to make a difference in the lives of others? How can I use my gifts and talents to create more good?

Flower power got people's attention and affected the choices of an entire generation. Could sharing my thoughts, my art and my creative process be the equivalent of putting a daisy down the barrel of a rifle? Is a symbolic effort enough?

Today, along with all these questions, I am sending out my purpose-seeking missiles, my loving vibes and my faith in the greater good. It is all that I have.

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