Risk making something that needs making
Give your life a chance. Give yourself some room to make a mess of things.
True life never is lived without pain. It is never lived without causing pain to someone else. To do that you would have to live in a cave, not stirring, interacting with no one, participating in nothing.
Listen to the silence and play what you hear in it. Don't play what others tell you to play. Don't do what others tell you to do. Don't try to be what others want you to be.
Have the courage to fail. It's in failure that success germinates. Let the music of your life flow unimpeded without censure or editing. To do what needs doing requires strength and courage. You must never strive to please the whims of others. While you are a part of the world, you must hold this part sacred and close to your breast. Not that it belongs to you, but it is a force beyond your understanding. Don't tread on it. Don't allow others to do so. Hold it close.
To make art sometimes requires that you go "splat!" and other times it requires that you destroy. Sometimes it requires that you NOT create. It is your decision and your prerogative.
Learn the customs of the ages. Learn the customs of not just your own culture, but the customs of all other cultures on earth. Learn about the smell and the taste and aesthetic of a country, of many countries. The only way to do this is to travel. You will not be a great artist if you see nothing, experience nothing, feel nothing. When a student asked Oscar Wilde how to find inspired, Wilde answered without hesitation: "TRAVEL!"
Always say yes to your most powerful dreams and desires. Your quiet sleeping mind knows what your noisy waking brain does not. Too much distraction. Listen to your sleep. If you see or hear something that moves you to tears, find or create that place in "reality"... it is not hard at all to do, with practice!
A thought is always accompanied by an emotion. Trust the emotion that is attached to the thought. If your thoughts illicit no emotion, you are not really thinking. You are reprocessing old mind habits. The mind is a sea of emotion. Respect its waves and its winds. Respect the Sargasso Sea as you respect the mighty winds from the North. Learn to use your moral and artistic sextant. Check the stars and stay on course.
And don't be afraid of losing your way. Well, yes, be afraid, if you must. You are human and subject to fear. Just don't let fear steer the ship. It's your ship. Make it follow your course.
The world is WAITING to see a new kind of art or hear a new kind of music.
Your friends are not aboard. They are still on shore, playing the silly time-wasting games of the "normal" citizen. Visiting the strip-malls. Eating out. Drinking wine and laughing at nothing. Having fun.
The last thing an artist should pursue is fun. Fun in art means getting bodily chills, rushes of great confusion and greater certainty, powerful longings, tears for a puppy behind bars, laughter when birds talk to each other in seemingly foreign tongues. Art is fun in no fun. Hard work is the fun. Being in bars and restaurants are the times an artist abhors. "Get back to work!" It becomes this way over years. I am so glad it is this way!
I am so happy to be driven to "MAKE"... such a great responsibility to make a thing or a piece or an album or a poem.
I dream of making. Then, in the day, I do it, I make.
If I make s%$# I always will know. No one but I will know. So give yourself permission to push the brush, the record button, the envelope. Always push. Sometimes splat. Always dream. Bring back the dreams. Do what matters. Believe that the universe will protect you. It will, for as long as you do this.
If you stop, you're on your own.
JW, July 5, 2010