A tough start
I may, or may not, have mentioned that I had the ugly respiratory illness for about 6 weeks. Sinus infection, bilateral ear infections, and bronchitis - the trifecta! It started on Christmas Eve and lasted till the first week of February. This was the first time that I have been ill in YEARS!!!!
And, there seemed to be the strangest of sequelae from this illness.
I found myself "less than" happy to look at the computer every day. I became increasingly agitated by pressure I was feeling around "what one must do to have a successful business." My to-do list grew bigger by the day. I found it increasingly difficult to write...which I normally love to do.
I had the topics, I had the research...I just didn't feel...useful. I just didn't feel...meaningful.
If you're into metaphysical thoughts, you would probably tell me that "I couldn't breathe physically and emotionally...that my thoughts were congested, blocked...and I couldn't hear my Self." (May I just tell you how much I've come to dislike this use of the word "metaphysical"?)
I might buy into your idea...but I'm also pretty sure it had to do with the fact that I neglected my health practices and someone was kind enough to share their virus/bacteria with me.
I went back to the beginning.
Why do I make art?
I'll spare you the litany of ways that I re-investigated this question. Meditation played a big role in achieving some sort of clarity. And, I forced myself to dig really, really deep.
You see, I've known all along why I make art - and I've written about it before. Making art is how I talk to God (or the Universe - which ever works for you). You might think it would be scary to admit to the internet that making art is one of my Spiritual Practices.
No, that was - and has been - the easy part. I have been told by many people they see something sacred, holy or communal in my paintings and my photographs. Yes, that feels good to know...
And then, there was the one person who spoke the Truth that I never spoke. She said, "I see isolation and the quest for peace."
Say what you will about viewers speaking from their own experience...but...she had outed me.
I decided to "own" isolation and the quest for peace. I used those very words in my latest artist statement.
I believe that making art is really "working with oneself." I learn more and more about myself the more I create. I know, and fully understand, the reasons behind my "isolation and quest for peace." (No, I don't need to tell you the reasons.)
Yet, I question...is my art meaningful to anyone other than myself? This query reminds me of the existential question I asked after years as an Intensive Care Nurse...have I done anything meaningful? Sounds like an absurd question on the face of it; but, it did force me to count (as much as I could) how many peoples' lives had changed because of my advocacy, knowledge and interventions; to acknowledge I had made a difference.
I don't know that I can say the same about my art.
Where the bliss starts...
I have developed a "going forward" reason about why I make art. This quote from Chogyam Trungpa is a clear statement of how I want my art to be meaningful.
"Working with oneself brings the realization of one's own (spiritual) elegance. Working with others means trying to develop delight in others. And the two together, elegance and delight bring a basic sense of richness and goodness...Obviously, you know by this point that a work of art brings out the goodness and dignity of a situation. That seems to be the main purpose of art altogether." - Chogyam Trungpa, in "True perception: The path of dharma art"
I choose to produce works of art that bring out the goodness and dignity of a situation; the goodness and dignity of people. I want to develop works of art that will develop delight in others.
All of which is a very fancy way to say, "I'm gonna do it my way". (Does anyone else hear the lyrics from Loverboy's "Turn Me Loose" running through their head right now?)
Don't get me wrong...I'm not abandoning good business practices that I've learned and continue to learn. Elegance and delight (as described by Trungpa) will be my internal guides for this art and photography business. I am putting my bliss to work.
Is bliss an action?
I think bliss has been misinterpreted as "only" a rapturous emotion. I think bliss - in its deepest meaning - is an action, an active choice. Joseph Campbell described bliss as being the "jumping-off point for being and consciousness; where body and soul want to go."
I think bliss is the action that occurs when the body, soul, being, and consciousness come together. This is what I know about where my body and soul want to go...I want to make art that finds that peace for me, and delight, goodness and dignity to others. My bliss, my jumping-off point, is to work from my spiritual core.
And is that not the ultimate "business branding" - to conduct business from the unique place where your being, your consciousness, your body and soul want to go?
How to "do bliss"?
The best description I can offer is Jeremy Cowart's inspirational video about his photography and his dreams. What he is doing with his photography is acting from his point of bliss.
I may not build an international hotel chain that will change the world (as Jeremy is dreaming and doing). I have ideas. I can offer delight, goodness and dignity in my own community.
You know...Start where you are. Use what you have.
Let's put a bow on it...
Six weeks of illness gave me the "quiet time" to contemplate where I am on this journey. And I wasn't particularly happy with how I felt. I needed the time to contemplate how to run an art/photography business that was meaningful to me and to others. I have found my way to act from bliss. And, you will see some of those works in the months to come.
How about you? Do you know your bliss point? What is your jumping off point where your body and soul want to go for your art?
Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure.
Your comments and questions are always welcome; either in the comment section below or over on the Facebook page.