Sometimes it’s really important to get a bird’s eye view of things. To climb up out of the place where the trees feel a bit thick in order to get some perspective on where you are, and where you want to go.
These past few months have been very challenging as I try to chart my next steps as an artist pursuing a creative life. This was not unexpected, but the knowing doesn’t make it any easier. I am trying to navigate through a space that, for me, is totally unmapped and many days I feel isolated and unsure of what to do next. I still struggle with my daily focus and how to spend my energy. When I do choose what I will spend time on, I can second guess myself which leads to feeling even more untethered and distracted; as if the first strong wind I encounter will carry me away.
Sometimes the work we do as creatives seems to be flowing into a giant black hole. We keep creating and making and moving even if our surroundings appear to indicate we’ve made little to no progress. This is when we need a fresh perspective; we need to be actually pulled up above the tree line. I had some objective voices speak into my art and my creative pursuits this week that were audible even through my self induced doubt-haze. They were words of imperative and essential encouragement:
Keep going! You’re on the right path! The work you’ve done up to this moment has been preparing you for what’s next!
This is especially meaningful when that voice is from a person farther down a similar path and has the experience to speak with authority. The most important thing I think an artist can hear in those moments is:
I believe in you.
I believe in the work you’re doing.
You have something important to share.
The painting above is from the book and is one of my favorite larger pieces. I was sitting on Cnoc Mor, which is a hill directly above the town, facing south toward Columba’s Bay. When you find yourself on a high point on Iona, the views are always incredible because Iona is a tiny island surrounded by the sea. The world is spread below you like a painting in a storybook, and you feel that you are part of, and separate from everything at the same time.
Perhaps this is how I need to be in my creative life. Immersed, yet maintaining a healthy distance. I do know that I crave those moments when I am able to perch above the path, finding reassurance in a new and welcome perspective. As I work on wrapping up my Iona Book (as yet to be named) and move towards finishing this project, I am so grateful for these heartening voices.
Some of you saw on Instagram that I was interviewed by Portland author Amy Maroney on her blog about the Camino, my art, and the artists who inspire me. Check it out and also make sure to check out her wonderful book The Girl from Oto!