Waking up for art
This is the week of the year where I’m so goddamn annoyed by Facebook, I come -this close- to deleting it. Subtracting the fact that I’m a bitter old salt, I get really irked when people publicly proclaim their New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because they’re all down-at- heel as fuck.
“I’m going to lose weight!”
“I’m going to get my house tidied!”
“I am going to find love!”
You know, shit like that. The one lush aunt Brenda has posted three years in a row, and then posts a Minion meme about it in June as a sassy reminder of her self-realization of failure?
I usually pass on New Year’s Resolutions because, admittedly, I think they’re garbage. However, a post from a friend this year inspired me to think differently. It made me think about art and creation. And it made me realize that, for the last few years, I’ve been too tired to create.
Between the ages of seven and fifteen, I was onstage at least six days a week. When acting lost its zeal, I transitioned into public speaking (after all it is an art!). When that no longer became feasible, I focused on writing. Throughout that time, I was a musician – a trombonist. And after that … I transitioned into nothing artistic. I occasionally dabbled in projects that popped up, but there was never a constant form of self-expression. And there still isn’t.
The problem is: I am too tired to create.
What an awful thing to realize, especially as someone who, for so long, self-identified as an artist. Yes, being an adult has proven difficult – I work hard to provide a good home for myself and my cat (#truestory), to fund my education, and provide spare money to do things I like.
But, still, I am tired. And I’m not sure if that’s because I don’t have time in the day, or because of my mental illness, or because I’ve lost sight of what matters to me: does art matter to me anymore? What is my art? Where is my voice?
It has been silenced by responsibility, mental illness, exhaustion from both. Both things are normal and expected, but by no means should they consume the thing that defines you and moves your soul.
So, my “resolution” for the year – for lack of a better word; perhaps “self-care” is more appropriate – is to find my misplaced art. Maybe it’s picking up a handicraft (my Choix de’année with my partner), or visiting an old friend – auditions are a thing around my home – or starting something totally new.
But, with any good ol’ ambition/resolution/goal needs to come a plan. So, what am I gonna do to make
1. TAKE CARE OF MYSELF. No, really. This has to happen before anything else. I have to make sure
I’m healthy, mentally acceptable*, dressed, clean, tidied … all that kind of stuff. This works for me personally, because it will help me focus better on what I have at hand. Some people work
better in chaos and mess; I don’t. I need a clean space, clean(ish) head, all that jazz, before I can
start. Maybe toss in some hygge now and again. A good bath bomb … maybe make a bath bomb… aww shit yeah.
2. SET ASIDE THE TIME. Like any good habit-establishment (habitablishment?), time should be set
aside to make it part of your routine. So, for this, I plan to set aside one hour a week for art. In this case, it will be an hour (at minimum) for art, no matter what kind of art that is … writing, painting, music … one hour a week. 20 minutes a day, three days a week, or maybe even 10 minutes a day for six days a week. You catch my drift.
3. DO THE DAMN THING. Well, what good is goal setting and careful planning if you don’t actually do the thing? Asking for a friend.
4. BE OKAY WITH MISTAKES. Okay, because I am human, I’m gonna fuck up. I’m gonna have bad mental health days, or days where I just can’t even. So, I have to allow myself days off. If I expect perfection, then I’m expecting failure (#clicheasfuck). It’s okay to take breaks or make mistakes. Perfection is a myth anyways.
5. CELEBRATE THE ART. Now that the art is happening, it’s time to celebrate and share!
Collaborate! Expand beyond that! Try a new art! Lather, rinse, repeat!
Let’s do this.
But, all in all, Pinterest-esque goal setting aside: the thing I love about my evolution as an artist is that its never been isolated to one form of art – I’ve been an actor, a comedian, a writer, a musician, and a speaker. Perhaps my voice will be found in a new medium this year, with a new message and a new tone.With practice and patience, I believe art can come back into my life.
And that, to me, sounds like something worth skipping a sad-nap for.
-Emily Gresbrink is a midwestern born and bred human with a knack for zesty one-liners and performance art. She is currently a M.S. Candidate at the University of Minnesota in Scientific and Technical Writing. In her spare time, she enjoys officiating roller derby, cuddling her cat, and rediscovering what it means to be an artist.