Not indulging in true desires and pleasure makes you vulnerable to emotional eating, compulsive eating and mindless eating..there’s a craving but it’s not for food.
Recently I’ve noticed…… actually that’s a lie.. for probably years now I have had a deep longing to make some kind of art. Maybe to paint, maybe to draw, it’s not been a super specific kind of craving but a persistent voice, an urging. I hear it and more importantly feel it.. often.
A little history; When I was little I loved love loved to draw. And I got some positive attention for it which was fine, thankfully it didn’t ruin it for me at the time. Unlike playing the piano which my parents started me at about 5 years old. I was already starting to play by ear and they wanted me to be able to read music. But once the lessons began, the nagging and intrusions began, and any joy that would have come from making music vanished. It was not “mine” any longer and after 7 years I declared I was done. And never played again. Which was a sad thing.
There was a scene in the movie/book “The Joy Luck Club” where a young prodigy chess-playing girl (let’s be clear, I was not a music prodigy or anything like it, but I had some talent I was told) in a fury over her mother’s narcissistic bragging of the daughter’s talents refuses to ever play again. Something definitely happens when what is “yours” no longer feels like it is truly yours. A disconnect, a tainting. Something gets lost. Thinking back on my rejection of my musical aptitude and possible ways I might have enjoyed it through my life and chose not to, is sad.
So back to the wanting to make art and not honoring what is clearly an intuitive (unending) urging. I am pretty sure that I am not meant to be any kind of artist. That’s not what this is about and why my stuckness is so noticeable to me. It’s about fear and perfectionism. Of not being good enough. Of not exactly knowing how to start and fearing there will be no pleasure because the attempts will be so tainted by some kind of disappointment in myself at how…ordinary my abilities are.
And they will be ordinary. I know this. And why am I, why are most of us so cowed by this? Why should this matter to me, I am not looking to become an “artist” or to be seen or employed or whatever in any way that matters.
This is just between me and me. Oh let me say that a different way.. this is between my heart and my ego.
My heart wants to play. Wants the pleasure of color and the old feeling of “coloring” and the old feelings of that.. peaceful, dreamy, focused in that flowing happily absorbed timeless way. My ego is afraid that it will be ugly and stupid and ordinary and that it might feel terrible in my heart to be confronted with all of that. Sigh…
More history. My mother was and is an artist. Went to Rhode Island School of Design. Had an interior design business, and 4 years ago at 74 went back to painting.. like a woman on fire.. filling up canvases and taking two painting classes a week. Impeccable gorgeous taste and sense of color. My Dad, who died over 30 years ago was an untrained, uneducated creative visionary with the best visual taste of anyone I knew. Also had a design business, creating beautiful ahead-of-their-time office spaces. He had an eye..critical as hell.. but what an eye. My parents adored beauty, as do I. Although my tastes tend to run a bit different. But I am getting off topic.
I remember my first studio art class in high school. The beautiful studio.. the smells of real oils. Our foreign teacher and his accent, the easels all set up. The moment of looking around at a couple of my friends who were truly talented. Better than me. My childhood talents had not translated. It was one of those moments when you see a kind of truth and it hurts. A “not good enough” moment.. and I knew I did not have that kind of talent. And it didn’t occur to me that if I worked hard I might develop it which in and of itself is interesting.
Another snapshot. My freshman year in college at a beautiful liberal arts school with a pretty famous dance department. Dance had been my thing all through high school..I loved it, lived for it, and was a big fish in a small pond. The first week in college, you had to audition for the dance department to be placed in a class. This was the kind of dance department that had LIVE MUSIC for every class! And big gorgeous studios with floor to ceiling windows. A dream. I walked into that big audition room, a terrified freshman, took one look at all of the other dancers and fled. Didn’t audition. Did not take dance, literally my favorite thing on earth my entire freshman year. More ego,more fear, more perfectionism, more heartbreak at my own hand. More terror at not feeling good enough, at being too ordinary.
I did end up dancing in college. Every morning at 840.. sometimes twice a day..Some of my best memories dancing to live piano, conga drums and electric violin improvised just to accompany us across the floor, back and forth and center. The pleasure of embodiment. But not that year.
And now here I am again. Wanting, longing, clear.. and yet. The old fears are huge. And part of me, the adult me knows of course (and yes.. I teach this time and time again to my beautiful perfectionism-laden clients) that it would be a kind and loving act to just sit down and draw or doodle. I have tons of materials. Gorgeous colored pencils and cray pas and watercolors. And I have this fear that what I want to make can’t translate onto the paper. And I also suspect that if I just start, the act of it, the absorption will have a pleasure of it’s own.
So this is my beginning. Of naming it.. the pain I have suffered in the past because of these sorts of inner battles and fears. The fear of being ordinary is a whole other topic for another day.. big one. Oh big big big.
Cups of pencils and beautiful boxes of pastels are calling me.. I have a sense of where I will start, and I also know that doing this is meant to unlock something else in me.. to open up a creativity flow that wants to come in right now. All of it part of my coming out of the death and loss cycle and into rebirth. And I have actually contacted a dear artist friend of mine and asked if I can come sit with him in his studio, and draw or just see what happens when I sit with the materials in a safe and creative space with somebody making room for me and my wish to create, just a little tiny bit.. Just to start.
So, here is my question to you- where has perfectionism, or the fear of being not good enough, or ordinary, or having not talent robbed you of play, or pleasure, of enjoyment? And where do these fears fuel the struggles with your body.. the eating and the shame and the hiding?
I would love to open up this channel of talking because I know from my work with women, and from my friends, that we all have had these moments and made these choices.
Sharing makes you lighter..
My love to you…