What do we strive for?
How is it that, no matter how comfortable or privileged we become as a culture, there remain hurdles to our growth and joy?
And the real question is – what do we make of these hurdles?
If we stop pretending they will magically go away, we begin to look more closely at their nature.
Regardless, we often feel disheartened by obstacles or adversity.
When I graduated from art school, I felt a wave of overwhelm by the sheer number of obstacles blocking me from success. Among the financial, logistical, and emotional hurdles there stuck out the social and familial blocks – purely psychological. People often trade around the ideas of “starving artists,” or artists driven only by pain, mania, or alienation. These somehow remain stubborn memes (embedded complexes of ideas, not internet jokes).
Even if you aren’t an artist, you’ve probably been limited – not only by the actual forces in the world, but by your fears and anxieties of their limitless dark potentials.
You’ve probably stood, so to speak, at the periphery of a dream of yours, only to touch its outermost surface in complete bafflement. You stare at it like the black box it is. Any big experience remains a black box, too, until we crack it. Until we pry that crack open with our child-hands and sneak inside. We learn what it takes to even apply to nursing school, or what steps one might take to start a business. We digest the fear of even the swimming thoughts of what the process might be.
For the few of us who have endeavored past this point, something begins to dawn on us.
A realization begins to take over us as we march through the steps toward our dream.
It encompasses everything from the beginning of a long day to the end of yet another failed attempt, and back again.
The realization becomes – that we deeply need these obstacles. That obstacles become the mountains on the map through which we navigate, or more precisely, over which we forge a path. As we begin to flesh out the map of our experience, the process to or through or beyond the obstacles becomes the dream, itself.
In cracking the black box, we realize that anything is knowable, even as we discover more to know.
We realize that obstacles, even as they taunted us, beckoned us toward them – invited us to disintegrate them.
We realize that obstacles were simply creative constraints through which we navigate, and thus benefit greatly from having navigated, that these constraints forged our character.
This yak took me several hours to create, and forms the basis for a series of larger drawings collaged onto panel. I’m pairing the subject matter with a new book I’m writing and podcast that I’m coming out with for a full multimedia experience. Titles for all those still pending…