As I begin teaching my new course The Whole Artist, as ever, I’m finding myself reminded that one of the most challenging things about creating art, or anything really (a painting, a dance, writing this…) is slowing down enough to be truly present with it.
Slowing down brings with it a lot of fear in a world of distraction and busy-ness. Slowing down means going deeper, it means being still, not busy. It opens the possibility of entering the unknown, and that can be scary as all get out. The ”known”, even if not great, is at least known, and a certain amount of comfort can be felt in that.
But it’s illusory. Because it isn’t soul comfort, it’s ego comfort. And ego comfort is fleeting. Soul comfort is constant, even in times of seeming uncertainty and discomfort.
Slowing down enough to connect to that essence of true comfort is essential to making art, to being able to take the risks inherent in the artist’s journey. For the artist must be able to journey into the unknown, into mystery. The journey of finding magic and soul and the sublime hidden below the surface of this surface-focused world, and of sharing it with a world drowning in busy-ness and disconnection.
In order to take this huge leap, this first risk of slowing down enough to see and then to engage in an act of creation, one must reclaim a sense of safety in a world that doesn’t value stillness and that sometimes seems intent on destroying everything.
So, already, as we prepare to place our very first step onto the path, the journey can feel fraught with danger, and we haven’t even truly begun yet. No wonder so many turn from the path and return to the illusory comforts of the known. To be an artist is to see the world differently – a world more alive and more scary, and yet also more beautiful and comforting than was thought possible.
So we begin our journey by building a sense of safety and trust – trust in our own voice, our own wisdom, our own vision. And we do this by entering the unknown, slowing down and being present to it.