I would like to think of myself bravely standing on top of a carved stone lion’s head. The updraft emanating from below causes my hat to flutter. I dust off my jacket and extend my leg into the air. As I lean forward into the limitless abyss I think to myself, “There’s no turning back now…”
Well you know, not all of us have a cheat sheet with step-by-step instructions to the Holy Grail. Sean Connery is not bleeding to death back in the musty temple and you know what? That leap is scary! So I ask you, “What’s the dream? The pie in the sky? The ultimate goal?” I think the un-asked question that accompanies this is “What’s the hesitation?” As an artist, you might be able to guess what my Holy Grail is. Let me give you a snapshot of my leaf of faith…
I am a 34 year old artist. I also work at an art store. This year will be my 15 year anniversary. I have also been professionally painting for a little over 10 years. Do the math. I know – I just know – that if I devoted 100% of my time to my craft I would be unstoppable. Don’t get me wrong – working at the art store has been an amazing journey. We’re a family at the store. I’ve gained confidence and work experience. Where else can I be surrounded by art supplies, work with my best friend, AND have health insurance? I am also afforded time off to paint, show and teach. Pretty cozy.
About a year ago I taught a watercolor workshop for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society called “Kickstart Your Creativity”. This workshop was incredibly introspective and I posed questions to the group to help them recognize and break through creative blocks. One exercise was called “Dream Big”. In one or two sentences they described their ideal artistic dream. I wanted them to be very clear about their goal so I wrote my dream on the white board as an example.
“My dream is to create art full time and in doing so – support myself financially ABOVE AND BEYOND my means and with complete confidence.”
I gave them a whole evening to mull it over, word it just right, and share with the group the following morning. This turned out to be one of the most difficult assignments. Why? Why is it so hard to simply define a dream? We put so much crap in front of our dreams that we forget why we, as individuals, were put on this planet. We also become comfortable with where we are in life and the dream remains just that – a dream. This discussion led into what I call “Comfort Zones”. Comfort zones are what? Comfortable! Why on earth would you want to leave? The tricky thing about comfort zones is they are also a safety blanket. My biggest comfort zone? Working at the art store.
So here I am, standing behind the registers, with an inspirational-sayings magnet rack across from me. Most of the magnets are pretty sappy. They would pair well with my “Hang in There” poster of a kitten hanging from a branch. One magnet stares back at me: “LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR”. In all capital letters no less. Yeah, yeah I know. I get it. JUST DO IT. For Pete’s sake I taught a workshop on this! I stare back at the magnet from behind the registers, silently judging myself. Oh good, a customer! I wave to the next person in line, “Hi, I can help you over here.”
I know why I am on planet Earth and what my purpose is. I wholeheartedly believe in my creative abilities. But do I? I can’t help but think that the large percentage of my time in front of a register means that I am not in front of my easel. I haven’t taken the leap yet. I have not cannonballed off the lion’s head. So what do I do? I bought the magnet and now it’s on my fridge, silently reminding me that I can do it. It’s a start, but before I take that “LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR” attitude you might just see me leaning over the lion’s head and shouting into the abyss “Does the net have health insurance?!”
7 Replies to “The “Holy Grail””
Go for it Jaya!! I was in a similar place last year before I started my new life as an art teacher. So terrified but I took the leap. Now I am happier than I have ever been in my life doing what I love! I am having a wonderful second year and as I am getting comfortable, there is voice pushing for the next stage (credential) of leaving my comfort zone again…
I never why I adore you. Your writing is brilliant. Selfishly I am glad you work at the bookstore since it is where I met you.
Whoops. A typo. Left out after never the wor “wonder”
LAST YEAR on my birthday I took an encaustic class with you. It was a memorable day. Now I realize I don’t have a proper work environment so have gone back to watercolor but I still love what I learned from you about wax. Thanks
Maybe I should try the acrylic class this year?
I would LOVE to see you in an acrylic class!
I believe you are already there and that you will just continue to evolve and when the time is right you will spread your wings to fly. You are doing it already – so far ahead and right where you are suppose to be. Your work is incredible and you have talent as a teacher. Part of your path is obviously to serve others as is my own. Thanks for your energy and confidence – I’m having a great time in the painting class!
Your words, in this inspirational piece, are like a Comet aimed at my heart. I want to leap up & grab hold of it. Hold it so close that it melts into my artistic soul.
Thank you Jaya. You are an exceptional Artist & a unique teacher to me. You truly are my comet that continues to inspire me to Hold On – Just Do It – & take that Leap Forward.
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