Self Discovery through the Arts
Have you ever asked yourself if you love yourself, or if not why not? Self love is a mystery. It sounds simple, but in practice it can be more challenging than you might think. In order to love yourself, to love your life, you have to know yourself. My last blog was about using the art practice of photography as self discovery. Practicing photography can just as easily lead you astray. The key is honesty, and that is a hard thing. Being honest about who you are and what you really like is the starting point to all true love.
Reading the Signs Correctly
Loving yourself is as simple and challenging as being yourself. The first step is to set out with the intention of being honest. An art practice helps, because it gives you a kind of reflection that exists in the world. This could be achieved through writing, dance, painting or any of the other arts. In order to reach the point of self awareness, which leads to self knowledge, which leads to self mastery, which leads to self love, you have to decipher a set of abstract signs. Why are you attracted to certain forms? What do these things mean to you?
Seeing the Unseen
In landscape photography, there is often a desire to share something beautiful with the world. In an area like Santa Cruz, there is no shortage of beautiful subject matter. The fact is, however, that we are also surrounded by things that we take for granted and some of these things are essential to our lives and livelihood. I have always been interested in power lines because they make up the infrastructure of our digital lives. Those lines carry power and culture into the privacy of our homes.
Theory and Chaos
Being honest means embracing the unpleasant at times. Nobody can live on this wild evolving planet without going through some chaotic times. We need some kind of handle to manipulate the moments of extreme discomfort that accompany events that throw our lives into tumult. Understanding the larger picture of our becoming can help to make sense of a pattern that in the moment feels all too disorganized and wild. Life is a force that drives us and it is not always neatly organized or clean. Embracing the chaos when you feel chaotic is one of the ways you can learn more about yourself.
Courage and Exposure
One of the scariest feelings many people can experience is exposure. Whether that is being on the edge of a cliff surrounded by vast abysmal space, or posting something true and vulnerable on the Internet, the feeling of exposure keeps many people from venturing out. Without adventure, there is no growth. It requires courage to put yourself in a position where you are exposed. These are important ingredients in the recipe of self love.
Discipline and Disciplines
Every artistic discipline requires effort to achieve fluency. Even for those naturally gifted in a certain art practice, the levels you are able to achieve depend upon the work that you put into it. Discipline is a force in art and life that helps us to achieve our goals. Exposing yourself to the world is risky, and you need to temper this danger with discipline. Anthony “Tazy” Tashnick is one of the bravest surfers I have ever known and he achieves this fearlessness through an incredible amount of repetitions. He would probably never call it discipline, but that is exactly what it is. Through putting in the work, he overcomes the fear that many people experience in big wave situations. The same is true with Alex Honnald, who says that even when he is performing a death defying free solo his effort and anxiety level are always between a four and a six on a scale of one to ten. Through practice, you can make difficult things easy, and thus less dangerous or scary.
Luck and Love
When it comes to success in life, luck plays a major factor. When it comes to loving yourself, this is much less true. You don’t need some amazing fortune to come to know who you are and what is best for you. Love is not a product of luck, and success is no guarantee of love. Work is much more important in this process. Of course, the ability to live and to do work depends upon a degree of luck, but what I am talking about has nothing to do with gambling. It is a safe and dependable route. You will need courage and discipline, but you shouldn’t depend upon luck.
The Long Walk Home
Our world is full of complicated distractions. We can easily succumb to bad marketing or fall victim to someone’s malevolent plans. That’s just a part of the picture. Through doing the work of self discovery and making a trail of images that others can follow you can build a solid path that you can rely on for your practice. In my experience, it is better to go slow in this process. When you are younger it can be hard to have patience, but there is no shortcut to finding the keys to self love.