Everything they told me was wrong, and it’s taken me thirty years to fully appreciate this fact.  Thank goodness I never believed them.  However I did listen because you tend to hear the things that people around you are saying even when you don’t agree.  Happily I was very stubborn and so I resisted the bad advice that I got from people all these years.

Now then, I wish I could say that their advice had been completely ineffective.  If I could say that I guess I’d be superwoman — or superartist.  I heard people giving me bad advice and some of that advice did creep into my brain, and it caused me to have doubts.  So for thirty years I’m doing paintings that are not really “art” and I’m doubting myself along the way.  But I have this big stubborn streak too so I’m doing what I want to do anyway because it’s my life.  And thank goodness, I was surrounded by other stubborn people in my family.  The worst of them were far more stubborn than me — which certainly could make living with them challenging at times — but there they were teaching me daily lessons in a kind of persistence that has served me well for those times when I want to do what I want.

I did sense that that the bad advice was bad advice.  But what if I hadn’t?  What if I had believed the forecasters of doom since they said they knew what they were talking about?

The beauty is that I had something in my own heart that tugged me where I wanted to go, so that even when the false narrative was most attractive I had this other happy impulse to follow.  It teased me along the way you tease a cat with a piece of string.  Even when the sound and the motion was quiet or slight, it was compelling in that beautiful way of desire.  And that siren voice kept telling me to be the artist I wanted to be.  And I listened because it was fun to listen.

And I’m still doing that.  And it’s still fun.

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8 thoughts on “everything they told me was wrong

  1. This post definitely resonated with me; I’m not artist, but as a writer, I’ve had to push against the advice and “guidelines” that others tried to impose on me.

    I’m glad you’ve found freedom by following your heart.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. mikereverb,

    I’m glad you found the remarks helpful. There are probably circumstances in which the cautions that nay-sayers enjoy delivering can have validity. Some kind of yin/yang thing that works in society.

    But in the arts we need the positive energy to get our work done, and for that one needs abundant self-trust. You cannot be an artist without a belief in yourself — for that is what you’re offering, your observations, your thoughts and feelings, your particular view of life.

    Meanwhile, this artist’s belief in the worth of his or her sensations is information that each generation must learn and relearn as the world renews itself season after season.

    Thanks for commenting.

    Aletha

  3. I love all these posts from March 11… and this one is a lovely piece of reflection on all those outer voices. I once met a very well-known painter who told me that he never dismisses anyone’s work, and is careful to encourage young artists because, he says, “you never know… you wouldn’t want to kill the art in anyone.” And Virginia Woolf said “literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.” Thank you.

  4. Ann,

    Thank you for this kind and thoughtful comment. And bravo to that well-known painter you met! Indeed, “we never know.”

    I think it’s always wise to side with encouragement.

    Aletha

  5. Yes, here’s to stubbornness! May we be as stubborn as we need to be, as much as necessary and no more, and do so in a very beautifully elegant, stubborn way!

  6. I am happy to have found your blog. I call myself an artist because I know I am creative and spent years on instruction. Unfortunately though, I still don’t have enough self trust to block negative energy I can’t run far enough away from. I won’t give up. Even if it takes till I’m 80 years old, I’ll find a place to practice my art!

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