“The artist’s task is to save the soul of mankind; and anything less is a
dithering while Rome burns. Because of the artists, who are
self-selected, for being able to journey into the Other, if the artists
cannot find the way, then the way cannot be found.”
― Terence McKenna
It’s hard to be different, or to be an artist. Maybe you feel like there is no time in your current life to be creative in any way, or you feel like you were once creative, and you just can’t find the energy or the inspiration anymore. Maybe you already have a professional art practice and you feel pulled away from your vision or overwhelmed by the demands of your career. In either case, the path of the artist is demanding and often unclear. Oftentimes, feeling a mismatch between your authentic self and the way you are currently showing up in your daily life can result in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even panic and dissociation. It’s as if some deep part of you is yelling at you to stop what you are doing, and it’s getting louder and louder.
The great performance artist Marina Abramovic spoke in an interview of the kind of person who needs to make art– “It’s like a fever,” she said. There are absolutely those of us who need to be creative, in one way or another, or else we will literally manifest mental health symptoms. And the culture does not offer easy options for being creative and also being a solvent adult in the world. It can be quite a difficult path.
I underwent Senior Jungian Analyst Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ week-long intensive training entitled, Original Voice, in which she revealed ways to come into contact with our own, authentic creative voice, in order to produce work that is genuinely inspired and not in any way derivative. Additionally, when I am not a therapist in private practice, I am an artist and a writer. I understand how difficult it can be to own the artist identity, to actualize it in the world, and to create a professional art practice, or a creative practice of any kind.
You have to start where you are. Start with the way you live your life. Life itself can be viewed as an epic piece of performance art. How can you start doing what you currently do as creatively as possible, and how can you open up windows, however small, for pure, uninhibited, wild creating? How can you begin to expand those windows? There is often some resistance and shame around the artist identity because of familial or cultural stories about what it means to be an artist. As with all instances of resistance and shame in my clients, I approach whatever is getting in the way with deep care and gentleness, looking for what gold may be in the shadow of any aspect of un-integration of the artist identity. This is the most effective way to glean what their is to glean from the resistance or wounds, and to help the resistance and wounds begin to shift.
Photo by Elle Hughes