Fear of the Unknown, Part 3
I’ve had such a hard time deciding what to write about for this week’s post…Should I just focus on last week’s exercise, or should I report about the hellatious fear-ridden week I struggled through…but then how can I leave out the amazing, fear-defying David Blaine? I’m afraid to make a decision, so I’ll touch on all three…
So, did you see the David Blaine special last night, “Drowned Alive”? Talk about facing fears…this man eats my grandiose fears for breakfast and by lunch, he’s moved on to burying himself alive or chewing glass!
While it may seem like such a ridiculously extreme comparison, i.e., his physical fears (being drowned alive) vs. our creative fears (what colors should I work with?) we can definitely be inspired by this man because I don’t think it’s the size of our fears that makes us different, but rather how much fear is relevant to our lives. David Blaine was undoubtedly born with a certain amount of courage that ordinary people like you and I have to work hard at to even comprehend. But what is really fascinating about David’s courage is that it is balanced by a sense of humanity and humility…his immense belief in other people and his motivations for doing what he does. David truly believes that no matter how much fear we hold within us, each of us can do more than we think we can…and his goal is simply to inspire others to do more than they think they can. I loved that he interviewed Aron Ralston, the young man who amputated his own arm to save his life…and that he called him a magician of life.
A Magician of Life…cool. But aren’t we all magicians of our lives…each and every one of us who does something that we didn’t think we could do the day before? I think so…because it’s not like fear is ever going to go away for good; every single day we have to find the courage to keep fighting our fears. A new day, a new fear; worse than those last 10 pounds because at some point, with a lot of work, determination and lack of carbohydrates, the pounds may go away. Fear won’t.
Speaking of which, this past week I came to realize just how many fears I’ve let keep me from moving forward with my life. I thought I had a pretty good and accurate account of my fears…but tricky little devils that they are, underneath many of them, guess what I found? Yep…like socks from behind the dryer, I found more fear!!!
It’s a very humbling experience to look at all the ways we hold ourselves back or sabotage ourselves because we tend to feel even more hopeless; on top of the realization, we are disappointed with ourselves for feeling weak…giving in to the fear. What I’m trying to do is look at this new information as “valuable” information instead of just more information to add to my already long list.
Anyhow, because of this new “valuable information”, I decided to take a few uncharacteristic chances this past week; one personal the other professional. One ended up a disaster and the other…well, I’m still waiting to see the final outcome. But before you cringe on behalf of my mortifying experience, let me say that while I did look at the disastrous outcome, wag my own finger and say to myself, “See, you knew you shouldn’t have done that…”, I didn’t say it for very long. I mean seriously, I made a mistake…big deal! No human loss was suffered, I didn’t mess up plans for world peace or even prevent Oprah’s show from airing…so really, how big of a deal could it be? Not that big when I take into consideration that all I did was risk being human. I mean, as humans, no matter how safe we think we’re keeping ourselves, isn’t it an inevitable law of nature that we are going to make mistakes, overreact, look stupid, say the wrong things…and maybe have to eat a few slices of humble pie? If so, then I have to look on the bright side and admit that I did an excellent job of being human last week. Who knows what I’ll do this week…
Fear of the unknown…makes you cringe, doesn’t it? Not knowing what is going to happen is never easy, but it’s really loaded when the unknown happens because of a decision we do or don’t make!
Speaking of which, I made the decision for last week’s exercise (Week #4 Exercise), to post a piece of art and ask for only constructive criticism. Why did I do this? I’m so glad that you asked…
- I did it because I wanted to post something I did that I thought was UGLY!
- I did it because I wanted to know that I could sit and endure the unknown…i.e., critical comments (what was the worst that could be said???)
- I did it because I wanted each of you to challenge yourself to speak your mind and not apologize for your opinion (because after all, I asked…)
- I did it because I think there’s so much more value to an honest comment, good or bad, than one full of fluff!
- I did it because even though I thought the art was really unattractive, I still wanted to see what I could learn from it.
- I did it because I knew how I felt about this piece of art and I wanted to see if I would get defensive to the criticism (which would show me that I wasn’t open to learning).
When you first saw the art and read the instructions, did you ask yourself, “why the heck would she post something so ugly?” I wouldn’t blame you if you had…because I questioned myself for quite awhile until I became clear as to the motivations behind the exercise.
The really cool thing about last week’s exercise is that it turned out to be mutually beneficial. Every single comment left was truly appreciated and I‘ll tell you why…(1) because of the courage I know it took to risk leaving your honest opinions, and (2) because in all honesty (and I mean this in the nicest way…) whatever you wrote is YOUR opinion, not necessarily MY REALITY. It’s only my reality and only becomes hurtful if I want to look at it that way…I mean, I may put a lot of myself into my art, but I AM NOT MY ART. If you don’t like my art, it does not mean you don’t like ME! and (3) the fact is, what most of you said was TRUE to me too!!!
I mean really, how many times are we asked for an honest opinion and then punished because we told the TRUTH…our truth!!! When it comes to our art, it’s vitally important that we separate ourselves from what we create in order for us to grow as artists. When we can truly separate “who we are” from “what we create” and see our work in a a different light, even through the eyes of another, we open ourselves up to learning and therefore growth.
Please understand that there is a huge difference between “seeing” it through the eyes of another and “feeling” it through the eyes of another. To see our art through the eyes of another is not to change our opinion of what we personally feel about what we’ve created, but rather to open our eyes as to the possibilities of creating and seeing it in a different way! I can’t tell you how many times I hear a first response to collage art as “I don’t like doing it”. After hearing this a number of times, I began asking questions, and I found that nine times out of ten, when asked “why?”, the answer was “because I don’t know how to do it” or “it looks too hard” or “I’m not good at it.” Since when should “hard” or “I don’t know how to” determine whether we try something new? Hmmmm…sounds like another example of “fear of the unknown” to me.
Which brings me to this week’s exercise…I’m not exactly clear on it yet (flying without a map…into the unknown!); my goal is to have the exercise posted on Thursday or Friday, so please check back! In the meantime, think about looking for the good in something you’ve created that you’re not all that happy with…and as always, your comments and questions are appreciated and welcomed (positive or negative this week!!!).