So, I just returned from a whirlwind trip through England and France – and I do mean whirlwind! A day here, a day there, staying in accommodations ranging from friends’ condos to castles. Let me tell you, it’s pretty sweet to wake up in a castle on your birthday!
In so many ways, it was a trip celebrating art in all its forms. We experienced the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Tour, with real sets, costumes, and props from all the movies. We had great fun admiring – and purchasing – the works of artisans at a medieval festival in Sedan, France. We strolled through Montmartre in Paris, filled with art galleries. I even had a moment of incredulity with one piece in particular. I approached a staff member, dubious, “Ce n’est pas l’original.” I said as I pointed to the painting. It’s not the original. And she reassured me, “Oui. C’est l’original.” It was then that I knew I was looking at the original Campbell’s soup can painting by Andy Warhol. #Notaprint. We reveled in the glory of cathedrals such as Ely and Sacre Coeur, where we were a little taken aback by a crazy organ solo after the service that reminded me of the beginning of Ghostbusters. And the patisseries! As beautiful as they were delicious!
I was surrounded by so much culture, so much beauty, so, so many stairs. And throughout the journey – because my brain is always running on all cylinders – I was confronted with a big question: what am I willing to deal with, to sacrifice, to do what I’m here to do as an artist?
We met a fellow from Regina, Saskatchewan working in a pub who had moved to Paris about seven months ago. I asked him if he enjoyed living in the city and he told me that Paris wasn’t a perfect place but the pros outweighed the cons and he liked it so far.
What may be required of us to fulfill our missions as artist? Do the pros outweigh the cons on our own journeys? The discussion brought to mind a real estate show where a young woman was moving to Paris to study fashion. Seems like the perfect place to pursue such a dream. In her search for a place to live, she came across a place – I think it was a condo – that met her budget of around $100,000 USD and provided a grand total of – get this – 86 square feet of living space.
Would you live in an 86 square-foot condo for your art?
When I was visiting New York, I had the same question. With my interest in theatre and with Broadway being the heart of the medium, you would think it would be a great place to connect and make things happen. But, while it was a fun place to visit and I had a fabulous time, could I really live there?
And we can extrapolate that to other aspects of our craft. Can we accept that there will be rejection, possibly a lot of it? Can we accept that, in the case of performers, we are working while others are celebrating? Can we accept that we may have to be away from home more than we’d like? In the airport in Nice on the way home, there were a couple of what I assumed to be models and I wondered what it would be like to live their lives, and not just what it would be like to be so beautiful and tall. Did then enjoy traveling from place to place or did they find it tedious? Did they mind not being able to enjoy life’s culinary pleasures as much as we mere mortals do?
I read somewhere recently that life will truly move forward when your passion is greater than your fear. Well… okay… it was a horoscope, but it’s a profound, universal concept nonetheless. More than just fear, I take this also to mean that you will move further on your path – it will rise up to meet you – when you are prepared to accept all that the path entails, embrace all of the pros and cons, fully cognizant of the fact that there really is no such thing as perfection.
This is more of a musing that offering any advice, per se, but I invite you to look at your creative dreams – or any dreams, really. Are they worth the rejections? Are they worth the paperwork being filled out to apply for grants? Are they worth hours spent in airports? Are they worth crowded streets? Are they worth a few rats here and there? Are they worth living in an 86 square-foot condo for a while? Are they worth climbing up and down stairs for what seems like all day every day? I mean, you will build up the leg muscles and it does apparently get easier but the stairs are still going to be there no matter what. I’m just saying. 🙂
You may truly be able to create an ideal scenario for yourself – a situation where you are creating your art stress free in exactly the environment that pleases you. I’m not saying it’s entirely impossible. It’s more likely, however, that there will be some aspects of your dream that are less ideal than others. And you will have your own priorities. You alone know what’s most important to you and it is to be honoured, even if you choose not to live “la vie bohème”. But if you can look at the whole picture, all the ups and downs, and see the joys of the process as greater than the potential setbacks – if you can breathe and tell yourself, “Okay. I’m hoping for the best but I’m ready for it all.”- then your dream will rise up to meet you and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.