Every time I show up at the paper [and every time I don't], I hear Annie Dillard's voice in my head saying, "Give it. Give it all, give it now". The language found in a painting ~ everything that can't or won't be told with words - lives on the paper where two-dimensional drawings can be made to convey an illusion of three-dimensional reality. Showing up, giving it all, creating an illusion, speaking my art is not as easy as it sounds.
"One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful; it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely, and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes." ― Annie Dillard, The Writing Life.
I read that the World was waiting for people [maybe even waiting for me] to make history by what I will or won't give, and I wondered to myself, "Is that true?" Is the World waiting for me to do something; anything? Is it possible that the Universe is waiting for me to make history?"
I remember the days when I worked for someone else who was paying me an hourly wage to work 8 hours a day, five days a week. They were paying me to "Give it. Give it all, give it now". I got up and faithfully went to work, and if I didn't they were the voice on the phone asking, "Where are you? Why didn't you show up today?"
I thought about all the days I've shown-up and all the days I haven't, and I asked myself if the World or the Universe or anyone else noticed. The answer: No. I don't think they saw….but I did. I believe that my days will pass and the World, the Universe, and most people will not be calling out to me saying, "Where are you? Why didn't you show up today?". And why is that? It's because it's my job to show up and to do my work. My duty to answer the question of the moment, the hour, the day, the week, the year; it's the question of a lifetime: Will I show up today, and if I do, what will happen? The only voice that will call me out and into the World is my own. I'm the only one at the end of that very long day - sometimes called a lifetime - who will be asking and answering this question.
I do show up, and I do try to find my best self to be. What have I learned? Some days giving it all just isn't very good. And I should only compare myself and my work to only myself and my work, not to someone else or their work. So on days when giving it all feels like everything and nothing, I am learning to be satisfied with the many small steps taken to get wherever it is I'm trying to go. As for making history? Who can know their significance or impact on the World? I think I'll keep listening to my voice and leave it to the World to answer that question.
Jana L. Bussanich Art & Yellow Couch is the home of Fine Art painting, instruction, and related services. We create and sell original high-quality Fine Art. Creative design; manage commissioned private, commercial, & public art; online classes; art business coaching. Based in Colorado, USA, serving clients worldwide.