I have a dear friend who is an amazing painter. She’s been an artist as long as I can remember (we were toddlers together).
Her artistic sensibilities delight me, inspire me, and influence me. I own a number of her paintings. They feed me every time I look at them.
She’s what I would call, a real artist.
Here’s a secret: I’ve been wanting to paint for a long time. For decades.
Back in the late 80s, this same friend and I made huge paintings one afternoon on her deck on Cape Cod. I didn’t know what I was doing but that didn’t stop me from having a ball. I loved everything about it—the paints, making new colors, exploring design, the feeling of the brush on paper.
Painting comes up every time I fantasize, every time I free write–this urge to paint giant canvases in a light-filled studio, this longing to feel invigorated and exhausted by the act of courageous, mysterious, creative discovery, this desire to get lost and be surprised by what comes out.
Guess what? I’m not waiting anymore.
I made a commitment to embrace this yearning despite all the mind chatter that erupts from time to time.
And more than that, I’m calling myself an artist.
I’m even calling myself a painter.
It feels pretty audacious, grandiose at times. Saying it makes me feel shy, giddy, nervous, excited, powerful, young, tiny, huge, and sometimes full of shame.
But I’m claiming it anyway.
I’ve been doing an embodiment practice with my coach, Josh Pais.
Now, I’ve always said that the body is the way. It holds our answers, our wisdom, our guidance.
I believe that the body never lies (while the mind lies all the time).
But we can’t access the information unless we are willing to inhabit our bodies and open to what’s there. RIGHT NOW.
Doing so is exhilarating. And scary.
It feels exciting. And dangerous.
Life is in that danger–in the tingly feeling we get when we feel our most ALIVE.
I don’t know about you, but I want that.
One of my favorite feelings is the feeling just after having done the ‘scary thing’–after I’ve made that call, had that conversation, stood up in front of that group, posted that writing, took that class, tackled that stack of papers. I love that feeling!
Every time I face and move not just through but WITH the resistance, the heavy-don’t make me do it-I’ll do it tomorrow-I can’t-how about if I just sit on the coach and eat potato chips feeling, things shift.
Embodiment is available to all of us, all the time.
So, let’s go back to what I said about my painter friend, about her being a ‘real’ artist.
What does that mean? What makes an artist REAL? Is it the kind of work?
No. There are a host of different styles and aesthetics.
Is it the amount of money she makes? No. Van Gogh died destitute.
I say it’s the willingness to honor the calling.
That’s not up to anyone else but us.
Might there be some ‘real’ thing you want to be that feels off limits, dangerous grandiose, not possible, unrealistic, too late?
As Josh says, most of us believe we need to Do in order to Have so that we can Be that person we long to be. But really, we get to BE that person first. Being propels us to the Doing and then the Having naturally arises.