This morning there is a jumble of seeming random thoughts I want to share with you.
Consider this the experiment of blogging (and creative entrepreneurship, for that matter).
Instead of pressuring myself to write “epic”, “shareable”, “timeless”, content, I am guided to share this. All I can hope is that it turns out to be useful or interesting to you in some way.
Remind me to add a post that is just about the theme of perfectionism and high standards to our (low) energy discussions.
The (low) energy experiment – I want to tell you about the one radical thing I hadn’t yet tried to improve my energy, and what effect it’s having.
How the rate and pace of information from so many devices feels like a huge contributor to what saps my energy. I can’t help but wonder how the whole Myers-Briggs personality test might be updated for the Internet age.
My score is INFP, in case you’re wondering. Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving.
How I was so wakeful, so early this morning. Waking up before dawn is usually good, this is what happens when I don’t eat wheat, and eat more vegetables and fruit (in the form of green smoothies). Except today I just wasted my most creative hours worrying about my taxes being audited. Which I somehow didn’t expect having a CPA who does everything. (The audit worries drift in between all of my thoughts lately.)
More worry about how little I’ve been painting, and wondering/worrying about this new studio space that is getting refurbished and what if it’s all wrong, and what if I don’t paint, and should I just give up on painting and stop thinking about painting?
Then I thought about Frieda Lefeber having her first solo art exhibit at 100. One of my sheros. What would Frieda tell me now?
Worrying about how much money I’ve been spending on the studio, is it a good “investment”, and what about travel? I could have spent that money traveling, and now I’m going to be anchored in place. Commitment ambivalence. Again. Nice way to add up two or three totally unrelated themes and make worry even muddier.
Later this morning, flipping through pages in a sketchbook I used Mexico City last summer, about my perceptions about a Surrealist exhibit at Museo de Arte Moderno, this jumped out and brought all of the above seeming random thoughts together:
“wavering and struggling as I am nearly all of my waking moments, with the problems of authenticity and value”
— Dorthea Tanning
Notes from my sketchbook
Wandering the Surrealism and magic exhibit in Mexico City, I was struck, once again, by how much I really don’t care for surrealist art itself, but was more interested in the stories and lives behind these paintings and sculptures.
Luckily, as part of the exhibit, there were some books and letters displayed in glass cases throughout the gallery. As a lover of book design, typography, old papers, and everyone’s story, these exhibits captivated my imagination most.
I spent a lot of time reading whatever pages were exposed, and hardly any time at all looking at the galleries full of paintings. The fact that my boyfriend spent more time in the gallery than me is just one way we are well matched and why I’m marrying him. 🙂
What Dorthea Tanning wrote about authenticity and value, resonated so deeply, that I copied her whole letter to Joseph Cornell in my sketchbook:
Sometimes I think that the only true and satisfactory means of contact with those we love is by writing rather than talking.
So it seems to me that our letters are far more the real barometer of our friendship than when we speak for a few over-charged moments in New York. Certainly you will agree that the atmosphere there, in most cases, is electric and artificial.
And yet, wavering and struggling as I am nearly all of my waking moments, with the problems of authenticity and value, it is not always that I am fit to write a letter of any kind.
I want the letters I write to you to have a real clarity which I feel I am ill-equipped to give them. My dreams, my illusory impressions and my waking life are all so mixed and confusing that I sometimes wonder if there is any reality at all. One can so easily be depressed and then again, so easily exhaulted. And where is the measure?
It may sound foolish, but it is my belief that there is only poetry and revulsion. I’d like to let the poetry in and keep the revulsion out.
That is something you, of all people I know, have somehow managed to do. How did you do that, Joseph? I wish I were not so aware of what the rest of the world is doing. Maybe that is your secret, maybe that is what you leave out.
March 3, 1948
It all came together in a series of inquiries and questions, more than answers.
- How can it not be exhausting to be connected 24/7?
- And how can we be supposedly connected online and yet feel lonely…in need of face-to-face, in-person contact with kindreds?
- How draining it is to be around people who stay on the surface of life
- Why does it still take me so long to realize how uncomfortable I am in social situations that aren’t working for me?
- Putting other’s needs and feelings first, ignoring my own. Bad habits.
- What is the next level of exquisite care I could give myself to be in social situations that enliven me?
- What social situations actually DO enliven me, right here, right now, with the energy, time, and interests that are alive within me, right now? In other words: am I basing my ideas on a past version of myself, or some version of myself that I think I “should” be?
- Letting go of wavering. What would that look / feel / be like? Yummy is my first thought, though I’ll dig deeper.
- Letting go of struggle. I’ve tried that. I struggle with that. Chuckle.
- OK. Instead of letting go of struggle, what could I embrace instead? Having arms free to embrace one thing at a time and all? Focus on what I’m embracing, rather than what I wish so desperately I could let go of. Remember the chinese puzzle: the more you struggle, that more impossible it becomes to break free.
- Poetry IN. Revulsion out.
- Authenticity and value… what if authenticity IS value, provides value, is valuable, in itself.
- Authenticity is one of the main components in how all of my workshops function – why wouldn’t authenticity work everywhere else?
- What if ALL artists struggle with authenticity and value?
- What if this struggle wasn’t bad, or something to fight, but something to lean into? My body relaxes just thinking about this.
My Inner Guidess offered some homework, you’re welcome to do it, too, if the spirit moves.
Visual journal assignment
Do a journal spread about authenticity. And another about value. Then do them both together. Report back.
Dorthea Tanning was an American painter, sculptor and poet. She died in 2012 at 101 years old, and published her second book of poetry a year before her death.