"I Have No Idea What I'm Doing"
I've started preliminary work on my next series of stained glass mosaics. It's something completely different than anything I've ever done before and, can I tell you something (but you have to promise to keep it a secret!)? I have no idea what I'm doing! Seriously. The images are different than anything I've ever created, it involves at least two other people, neither of whom have ever done anything like we're discussing. AND IT'S GOING TO BE FABULOUS!
Who says you have to be accomplished at something before you start it? That doesn't even make sense to me!
Why shouldn't I strike out and work my butt off to create a new body of work that is going to require me to learn new skills and perfect techniques I've never tried? How else will I grow as an artist if I don't? Heck, forget growth as an artist... as a human being!
Here's something you may or may not know about me: I'm a coward at heart. Big time. I love the IDEA of being brave, and I push myself in that direction way more often than I'm comfortable with, but after the lights have been turned out, and I should be sleeping, I am often the recipient of what I call the "3 a.m. What the F*cks". Because I wake up (or am still awake) at 3 am thinking to myself "What the f*ck are you thinking?!?!?! This is never going to work! The world is going to come crashing down around your ears, Ms. Smarty Pants Artist, and then... then what are you going to do, huh?" And I essentially have a choice at that point: I can spend the rest of the night fretting about the world crashing down, and planning how to prevent it or fix it after it does, or, on those very rare but glorious nights when I can stop the cycle of panic, I think about all the ideas for mosaics that are roiling around in the back of my brain like cut up vegetables in a soup that's at a high boil. They're just all mixed in there together, banging around, hot and waiting for their turn to bubble to the top of the pot. Now, I'd love to tell you that I have a way to go to boiling-soup mode every time, but truthfully, I spend more than my fair share of 3 am hours planning how to pick up the pieces of my life when it's a tattered, shattered mess. It's who I am and the way I'm wired. I've learned to accept it and work with that side of my personality, with the help of some amazing conversations, books, podcasts, blogs and a little therapy thrown in for good measure. Liz Gilbert's book, "Big Magic" was earth shattering for me. Really, every single person should read it.
A friend told me recently that her therapist says she should paint as a way to deal with some "stuff" in her life, but the idea of painting stresses her more than the "stuff" because she doesn't think she has the skill to paint well enough for it to work. I thought that tied in so well with this new series. Right now, I don't have the skill to create what I'm seeing in my head... but I will! And I'll fail. And it will be terrible, and there will be several "3 a.m. What the F*ucks" associated with this project. But there is no way that I'm not going to take the opportunity to see where it leads!
When I was a kid, we went to Disneyland. I can remember the Pirates of the Caribbean ride so clearly; I was SCARED TO DEATH! I was pretty little, but the fear of the unknown was so strong that I drove everyone in the little boat around me crazy. (Honestly, think old country Jewish grandmother wringing her hands and praying and moaning "ooooh oooooh oooooh....", but in the body of a skinny little blonde kid, and you'll be close.) And then... when the ride was over? Out of my mouth popped "That was fun! Can we do it again?" I know the people around me wanted to throttle me! Heck, I wanted to throttle me! But here's a thing I've come to know (and more importantly, accept!) about myself: I'm scared - pretty much all the time - when I do something for the first time. It's only afterwards that I realize how much fun I was having, and how much MORE fun I could have had if I hadn't been so freaked out. I have a great partner in life that helps me with that, along with a whole tribe of pretty amazing friends. So I'm learning to relax a little at a time, and tell my fears that they can come along for whatever adventure I'm undertaking, but they don't get to be the loudest voice in the conversation. Because, I remind them, understand completely that I have no idea what I'm doing! And it's going to be fabulous. Or at least, okay.