I always understood that Carrie Fisher quote, “I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to BE art.” I did want that. I often do.
I draw. And paint. And act, write, sculpt, sing, direct, photograph, model, cook, cater, sew, design, perform and am an amateur makeup artist.
I do a lot of things. Or I CAN. I am able to do many things.
After my teenage years and up until about 5 years ago, I rarely created anything. I was afraid. Afraid the things I made would not be good enough. Uncertain what the value of anything that I created might be. If it was something funny or silly or frivolous, it didn't seem to have enough meaning. If I tried to write or paint something serious, it seemed too self-important.
I was made of doubt. So I created little. And kept even less.
I began acting again 5 years ago. By accident really. Anyone who has spent time with a community theater will understand that one day I was helping a friend out by stage managing her play and a few months later I was on stage, in costume for the next production, looking around and wondering how the heck I got there.
The acting community led to other things. And slowly I found myself surrounded by people who make art. Play music, paint pictures, film movies, put on comedy shows... Crazy people. Wonderful people. People brave enough to create. People who don't seem to be frozen by the doubt that haunts me.
A friend I made recently brought this into sharp focus for me. He creates constantly. He is a newspaper columnist, an independent filmmaker, a talented photographer, a natural comedian, and a very capable musician - and he does one or another of these things all of the time. No day goes past without him creating something. Being near this consistent creative force feels strange and wonderful and a little intimidating. But the biggest lesson to me has been the experience of watching someone who doesn't hesitate. Doesn't pull back from trying because he is uncertain if each thing he does will be perfect. He produces work and shares ideas and makes something every single day. It floors me. He is so talented. But also so brave.
I'm still afraid. But I'm slowly starting to draw and write again. Those were the things that came first. When I was too young to understand that directing a play or designing a burlesque costume were things a person COULD do, I was drawing pictures and writing things down. And I am trying new things. And I am learning to have faith.
It took me so long to figure out that part of the beauty is in the creating itself. So many things live inside me. If I start now and I try to get them out of me, making something each and every day, I will never finish. I will never run out. And not everything I make will be good. It won't be beautiful or have value to everyone who sees it. And that's okay. Even if I only make things for myself, these things are evidence of a life lived, of days spent not in fear or self-doubt but instead actively engaged in the act of creating.
I want the art of my life to be in the making of things and expression of ideas and the sharing of joy and experience. I want to actually do all the many things I am able to do.
I want to be brave, too.