A thousand times a day
I resolve myself
to do something.
A thousand times a day
I resolve myself
I wrote this poem back around 1978. Around that time I was also reading a book about the French Minister of Culture and philosopher, Andre Malraux. One of the things that he commented on was that whenever you choose a path, you leave all other paths unchosen. A simple thought that has complex implications. This thought haunted and hounded me for a long time. I had a need to find a way around it. I became obsessed with it. It was a sickness, literally. That sickness is my OCD and it is an anxiety disorder.
Every time I would start to explore one path, to see where it might lead me I would become anxiety ridden that it might be the wrong path. I would have to stop and go back and start over on another path. Part way down that new path I would become overcome by the same concerns and anxieties. Once again I would stop, turn around and go back to the beginning to start over. Sometimes it might be a change in materials and techniques. Other times it might be a change in subject matter. Sometimes I might be so indecisive that I would do nothing but make excuses for a while. I don’t think that I was really aware of it at the time. Now, I can look back and see why I didn’t make a whole lot of forward progress. This is one of the realities of my life. This is how I have lived most of my life.
In some cases fear can be a motivating force. Fear of becoming trapped in a life that I saw as filled with unhappiness motivated me to say goodbye to family and friends and move alone to the other side of the country. Fear of wondering if I would wake up one day as a stagnant old man and wondering what might have been if I had just tried motivated me to attempt various things. In other cases it can cause paralysis. Fear of trying something because I might fail. Fear of trying something new and different because I might be ridiculed or be seen as strange.
Youth had its own set of anxieties and resolutions, as did every decade of my life. Now I’m getting older and I don’t have as many years to screw around and indulge myself. The greatest anxiety now is that I might not discover whom I truly am and what I am supposed to be doing before I die. Yet, jumping from one path to another seems so counter productive to achieving this goal.
Now, I have long believed that the solution to a problem, any problem, lies within the problem itself. If I sit quietly and think about it, pray about it, reflect on it or contemplate it, the answer will make itself known. This sounds easy enough but how many things are easier said than done? What also adds to the difficulty is that the answer might be something that I don’t want to hear. Actually, it might be something that I am not ready to hear or accept. Big difference. I try to make myself fit into cultural norms that just don’t work for me. It is not that these norms are wrong but rather one size does not fit all.
I look at the work of other artists and I see unified bodies of work. I see a cohesive whole that moves forward with deliberation and purpose. Then I look at myself and I see zigzagging all over the place. So what’s a poor boy supposed to do? Well, the answer for me is to accept the fact that my path is a crooked path. In the Judeo-Christian Bible the prophet, Isaiah says that God makes straight lines with crooked writing. I can relate to that idea. In a recent post the blogger, Philip Edson does an interview with the artist Jafabrit and discusses her work, which she calls interstitial art. She defines this as “Art that blurs the divide between fine art and craft, high art and low. Art that crosses boundaries.” Jafabrit goes on to say, “I love so many types of art and the process of doing them. Over time each discipline/medium has added to my repertoire and each satisfies a creative need.”
Perhaps I have spent too much of my time being obsessed with achieving some form of financial success or recognition. Those aren’t really bad things especially when you are trying to support yourself. But trying to be someone other than who I really am isn’t a good thing either. A recent event has freed me from an anxiety that was a major stumbling block. Now, as an artist, I am free to be a happy wanderer. Free to wander along a road that goes here, there, and everywhere. Free to embrace my anxieties and eccentricities and see where they lead me. God knows fighting them and trying to deny them only left me tired and frustrated.
The above paintings are a continuation of my attempts to combine representational with abstract. They are all oil and oil pastel on prepared paper. The first is titled, “Standing Alone” and measures 20” X 16” (51 cm X 40.5 cm). The next measures 24” X24” (61 cm X 61 cm) and is titled, “Distant Echo.” The final piece measures 24” X 18” (61 cm X 46 cm) and is titled, “Red Hot Mama.”