Saturday, April 12, 2014

Creative Commitment - Art and Loneliness

It was nearly three years ago that I made a commitment to living a creative life.  As part of this I made many changes. During these three years I started back to school to learn more about business, I intensified my study of dance, I began to write every day, I dedicated more time to my variety show troupe, I started seeking other avenues of income and I began teaching dance. It has been rewarding in so many ways but there have also been moments where I have struggled with feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Some of this I simply attributed to factors of time and money.  Prior to making this decision I had well paying (and super stressful) 9-5 job and a very busy social life.  I was out nearly every Friday night.  Saturday and Sunday morning brunches were a regular occurrence and it was very rare for me to decline a party invitation. These days my Friday and Saturday nights, and many other nights of the week, when I do not have a performance booked, are often dedicated to doing homework, costume creation, promoting or dance and music practice. Though I am far closer than I was three years ago, I am not yet at the point of being able to fully sustain myself on the income from my artistic endeavors and what I do make from my very part-time job just covers my expenses.  This quickly made nights out dancing and weekend brunches a thing of the past.

Yet even taking this into account it seemed that the feelings I was struggling with were due to more than just lack of time or money.  When I would get together with friends, after the general what-have-you-been-up-to-these-past-few-months conversation during which we'd share the ups and downs of our lives, I would often hear some version of the following phrase, "I wish I had the guts (will, courage, etc) to do what you are doing.  I don't know how you do it"  After which I'd say something along the lines of, "Well, it isn't easy but I wouldn't change it for anything, and I'm sure if you found something that called to you as much you'd find a way to do it too."

And more often than not I'd leave the interaction feeling like something was missing and no understanding of what that something might be.

This morning I found myself musing on these thoughts again and decided that some other artists out there must struggle with similar feelings.  So I did want anyone who has an unanswered question does these days. I googled "art and loneliness."  Which is how I came across Art & Musings and the blog post titled "Loneliness - The Burden of Artists."  And it began to dawn on me what was lacking.

While I don't agree with everything the author writes (I am pretty sure my friends don't think I sit around watching TV and napping all day) I do connect very much with her desire to find other humans beings who are walking a similar path as she; other people who can relate to the level of commitment this lifestyle demands and perhaps help fulfill a deep desire for understanding.  It makes perfect sense.  I mean when I worked a 9-5 job I had my coworkers to commiserate with and as a student I often find that I can connect similarly with other students I attend school with.  In fact in writing this now I feel a bit like I've just walked into The Wall of Obvious.

And the thing is I do know people doing similar things.  It just has not occurred to me, perhaps due to time constraints or more likely sheer obliviousness, to take the steps to cultivate closer friendships with them. Obviously this is something I need to change.

I'll close this post with two queations to my fellow artists.  Do you find that you encounter similar feelings as those I've written about above?  What do you do to cultivate connection?