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How Art Makes You Resilient




Being resilient can save you. We have collectively witnessed this over the past three months. Some folks have blossomed and discovered new activities like cooking, baking bread, gardening, organizing or getting to all the home improvement projects you couldn’t get to before. Others have struggled with stress, fear, health issues, anxiety and juggling work with caring for and teaching children. We have all had to learn new coping skills.


I know some artists have blossomed during this time. They have retreated to their studies and become quite prolific. Others have been stunned into silence. Then there is the middle group, and that is where I am. It is the “why bother” feeling. I move back and forth between feelings of hope and why bother. My year has been cancelled. Someone said the dumbest purchase they ever made was a 2020 planner. Galleries are closing, artwork is piling up and more and more people are crowding online making it hard to be heard. Why bother making more art when it isn’t going to be seen? Why bother writing or teaching when no one will hear? Poor me, right! Hah, my muse won’t let me get away with this kind of thinking. She kicks my ass and activates my “what-if” muscles.


She wakes me up early in the morning with an international collaborative project idea. She taunts me with whispers to pursue the nature-based sculpture project that has been on hold. The biggest most important thing she has done is to remind me of my true nature. I was born curious and I create out of sheer pleasure and joy. It was in my teens that I made my muse work for a living. She had to make money, she had to get recognition and support. She had to earn her keep. Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Big Magic, talks about taking vows. She vowed to the Universe that she would write forever with no time constraints. She didn’t put any restrictions on her dream. She said, “I also promised that I would never ask writing to take care of me financially, but that I would always take care of it.” She has succeeded.


My muse went along with the imposed constraints to make us a living because we were having fun. I let her have free reign. She wasn’t limited to painting, sculpture or teaching. She could explore her curiosity with science, travel and adventure. So, when she heard me say, why bother, well, she let me have it. She said that she wasn’t a bother and I better not say that anymore. She said, you love to figure things out. You love to play and explore. You don’t need this to be about sales or following a career path. It is about resilience. She knows why I create. It is what sustains me more than a job, a livelihood or even recognition. Creating is my blood and I must do this, or I die, whether physically or spiritually.


Art or more precisely creativity is in your soul. You know when you are not allowing your muse to breathe. She needs to be free, without restrictions or constraints. She does need to bother making stuff no matter what. Let her play, draw, write, cook, sing or dance. She doesn’t need to have a direction. She just needs to be resilient and she will always take care of you.



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