Monday, January 03, 2011

notes on immersion

One of the thrills of great works of art is that they are big enough that you can lose yourself in them.

Which can inspire you to make your own works of art. You can also lose yourself in doing that.

This can be intensely rewarding.

However, there is no artist who walks the earth for whom it ALWAYS turns out well.

Talk all we want about how it's a process. We still like it when it turns out well, and we don't like it when it doesn't.

Creating great work requires immersion. Immersion can end in drowning. This is a fact. Once you've drowned, it's that much harder to immerse yourself.

Although, no lie, Confucius did say "It's easier to live if you're willing to die."

Try that one on for size.

As with art, it's possible to lose yourself in love.

This can also end in drowning.

As with art, that's not a reason not to let yourself be immersed, ultimately at least. But there's no question it becomes more challenging once you've been through the whole drowning thing.

Come to think of it, in thinking this through, I see the Christian rite of Baptism in a whole new light. It's like they're saying "This is what it's like. Get into it." DUNK!!!

In the last six years, I have arranged my creative life in such a way that I was actively engaged in my creative work for 3-6 hours a week. Most of the time, no more than that. I waded, I swam some laps, I bobbed and treaded water. But I pretty much stayed in the shallow end.

That, again, seems about to change.

I think I'm ready. Time will tell.

And wherein lies this readiness?


Experience, for one thing. Which, as Oscar Wilde famously quipped, is the name that other people give to their mistakes.

I've made plenty of those.

So that's one thing.

I think I also have a clearer picture of what it is to engage in a collaborative enterprise. As the captain of the ship, I can exert a lot of influence on said enterprise. But there are limits. To what I can do. Even I. Having bumped my head against those limits enough, I won't be tempted to pretend they don't exist. In times when things don't go as I had hoped, there may be some comfort in remembering those limits.

I have worked to acquire some decent interpersonal skills. There's always work to do on making those better, but I have some.

I have people around me who truly, truly, love me. No question.

And I feel like I get that it's a marathon, not a sprint. I'm probably a sprinter by nature (Aries), so that may well be what they call "the rub" in this particular instance.

But I have also discovered that I can actually be quite happy splashing around in the shallow end, if push were to come to shove. Sooner or later, the deep end would probably beckon again, but it's nice to know that the shallow end is always an option, at least for a while.

That Yeats may have overstated things at least a wee bit when he spoke of "perfection in the life or in the work."

I stand on the threshold.

Or, to quote the first play I ever directed:

"On the brink. On the beach. On the verge."

The bracing.

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