Category Archives: Personal Development

The Myth of Perfection: Learning the Art of Risk & Surrender

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash.

Art and creativity are fascinating enigmas. An artist strives to create something beautiful (or sometimes ugly), or meaningful, or touching, or layered, or shallow, or simple, or complex, or elegant, or chaotic, or critical, or maybe even (somehow) all of the above. But what happens when the end result is received in a way that doesn’t match up with the artist’s intention?

Art is, essentially, a form of communication. It is the artist’s expression of some thought or message, whether simple or complex, in physical form— even if that physical form is temporary, such as is the case in theatre or performance art. (Then again, even a painting or sculpture is, ultimately, temporary.) However, because communication via art is indirect and therefore has an inherent abstractness woven into it, there is a non-zero chance that the artist’s message will not be fully understood, or misunderstood, or even missed entirely.

This is the risk of all art, taken by all artists. We cannot control how our art will be perceived by others. Through art, there is no guarantee of perfect communication, and therefore risk is an innate element of all artistic expression.

This element of risk might give some people the message that perhaps it’s better to give up before even starting, since there’s no guarantee that “success” can be achieved.

But ah… guaranteed success is not the pure purpose behind art. Is it? (If it is for you, I might suggest you re-examine your inner “why” which drives you to create.)

I believe art exists for its own sake, and we can benefit from it in a multitude of ways, independent from the successful (or even unsuccessful) communication of the artist’s intended message upon the receiver/viewer/audience.

Art can open a dialogue between people or communities with opposing views. Art can inspire. Art can teach. Art can cause introspection and searching. Art may cause us to rise up and take action. Art may leave us in awe. Art may move us to laughter or tears. Art is sometimes emotional and cathartic. Art is sometimes mental and intellectual. It can be philosophical or it can be whimsical. It can be humorous or serious.

The potential of creativity and art is limitless.

There are so many overlapping themes between humanity and art, is it really such a far stretch to propose that humanity IS a work of art? Perhaps art and artistic expression is inherently an extension of our own humanity.

Working on one’s artistic or creative side is, therefore, very much akin to working on the development of one’s own person (i.e. personal development), and in turn, a piece of the puzzle of working on the betterment of humanity as a whole. In other words…

Being an artist has a noble, greater purpose beyond the myopic self. Artists help sculpt humanity’s present and future.

Not that’s certainly an inspiring reason to create! 😉 <3

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Because of the inherent nature of art’s relationship to risk, a good artist must ultimately learn the art of surrender.

…Surrender to the unknown, to the uncontrollable, and to the subjective world of experience and interpretation.

Learning to surrender, in both art and life, is something I’ve been working in and on myself.

One thing that has often held me back from diving deep into creative expression is tied to the element of control and the desire for perfection. I’ve learned that perfection, when it comes to art, is an illusion, and therefore I must surrender to that imperfection which exists in its place.

Done is better than perfect.

Create with love. …And let it go, with love.

Reflecting on the nature of and desire for perfection, perhaps it might even be rooted in a desire to evade criticism, judgement, or being misunderstood. If we create something perfect, we will (theoretically) be free from potential negative criticism and feedback, and we will be completely — perfectly — understood. After all, isn’t that something which all humans desire at our core: to be loved and understood?

But since perfection is essentially a myth in this subjective universe of art and creative expression, seeking perfect expression is a fruitless, impossible goal. I say this not to dissuade you or anyone from doing your best, but rather to free you from holding yourself to impossible and unrealistic expectations.

For example, I know this blog post is rather imperfect… perhaps it is overly verbose or rambling or meandering. It could probably use a bit more focus and structure.  But hey, it’s published! It exists in the world. And an imperfect something is better than a would-be perfect some-day maybe which never ends up seeing the light of day.

Embrace imperfection. Embrace your self. (Because yes, we are all perfectly imperfect.)

Embrace who you are today and share your unique perspective with this world, imperfections and all.

You are a unique work of art.

There will never be anyone else like you.

And, especially:

All things, your self and your art included, are inherently temporary in this medium of space-time reality.

…So, good or bad, who cares what the critics think? It’s all subjective and temporary anyway. 😉

xox

<3

Hello. My Name Is: “Work In Progress”

Photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo

I have a desire to revamp my life, career, and social circles in a BIG way, and I pretty much want all of it to revolve around authenticity, growth, creativity, and empowerment. And love… Always LOVE.

I did a new show this past summer. It wasn’t really ready when opening rolled around. Yikes! But I performed anyway, and… that opening performance was barely okay. Definitely not great. I had messed up the timing in a big, big way and ended up having to cut out some really important pieces of the play that add more depth and heart (and without it, the play doesn’t really work). And, of course, it just so happens I was reviewed on that opening late afternoon performance. *facepalm*

It seems this is always my horrid luck — to get reviewed on the very first performance of a brand new show or production. It’s happened countless times, and I hate it. It was a pretty harsh review, too… but alas, I digress; the past is the past.

But I bring up this play to share a few things. First off, although the first performance was decidedly… shall we say, in need of vast improvement, many (most, actually) of the following performances went rather well! Some were perhaps even great! The reason being is that I would continue to experiment and improve the show with each performance.

Recently I’ve come to realize what kinds of creative techniques or approaches work best for me, and it doesn’t involve meticulous planning and research and routine and taking little steps each day that will progressively and ultimately result in my greatest creative work. …Nope. Perhaps that approach works for many, but I can’t seem to make myself do it — that’s not how my creative output thrives.

I’m my best creative self under pressure. I need a deadline. (Granted, I had a deadline for my show in the summer, but a deadline is only one of the components necessary for my ideal action strategy.) But I also need to bounce ideas off of people. I need to create something fast, and then present it, and then tweak it, and repeat the process until I have something I love.

What’s funny though is that I have been fearful to use such an approach… I have this strange hang-up when it comes to sharing a work in progress. Maybe it was based on a fear of being judged for something that I knew was incomplete and imperfect; or maybe it was a fear of being too vulnerable, inviting my raw creative self to be viewed and judged during a very fragile process that is creation. It could be both of these things, and maybe even something else too.  …Hell, I remember even after going through a full 4-year university education majoring in theatre and drama, I was still often hypersensitive about rehearsing anywhere where I might be overheard. And so I’d often whisper during rehearsal, which is really quite stupid unless the scene actually involves whispering.

I want to get rid of this weird hang-up or phobia or whatever one might call it. I want to conquer it. And I think one way of accomplishing that would be to start making videos and publishing them online via either Vimeo or YouTube. …And even better, it would involve needing to adhere to deadlines with time pressure and public accountability. What better way to conquer this hang-up than by committing to a video challenge?

I’m not sure if I should commit to a 10, 20/21, or 30 day video challenge – the challenge being to record and publish a video online every day. I’m also not yet sure when will be the best time to carry out such a challenge, but I’d definitely like to do it sometime in early 2018 — perhaps even January 2018. (Although, I’m also wanting to commit to some screenplay writing challenges earlier in the new year too, so that’s why I’m not sure if jumping into this challenge at the top of 2018 will be the best idea. It might, so I’m not completely writing off the idea… but I want to give it some thought and planning first before I jump into. …So we’ll see!)

Anyway, consider this as an official announcement that I will be undertaking a video challenge sometime in early 2018. 🙂 I’ll figure out further details and announce when soon. (…My first videos will undoubtedly suck (lol), so I hope you’ll bear with me as I navigate through this new (to me) territory.)

AND, if you don’t hear from relatively soon regarding an update on this, please bug me in the comments! …I’d sincerely appreciate it! 😉