(A guest blog about fear from my talented friend Mike)
This idea that artists can be fearless is bollocks. Dress fear up and call it what you want: worry, prudence, perfectionism and not measuring up. It’s still fear. Adults rarely say “I’m afraid” unless we are talking about public speaking or spiders. Yet, when we follow our dreams, we end up right in the middle of a huge pile of…fear.
This is my first year completely free of a day job to prop me up. I have the artist complex. I go from flying high among the mountain tops one day to feeling like an absolute failure the next. Then, there is this really difficult balance between making money, feeling alive, loving myself, giving myself away through art and loving the people around me. I tend to wrap my value as a human up in what I do for others. Basically, I borrow fear. I’m afraid of the outcome of events that haven’t happened yet.
Every time I send off photos to my clients I worry. Did I really do a good job? Did I give them photos they love? Is the way I see them, the way they see themselves? It’s almost like that financial mantra “Past performance does not guarantee future success.”
As a photographer I feel I have to push myself harder and harder everyday. And on some days I fall out of balance and end up mentally & emotionally crashing. Recently, I found relief in reading the conversation between a boy and his mentor in the book, The Alchemist.
“My heart is a traitor, it doesn’t want me to go on.” the boy said to the alchemist.”
“That makes sense. Naturally it’s afraid that, in pursuing your dream, you might lose everything you’ve won.”
“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.”
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”
- Paulo Coelho, the Alchemist
Like the boy, I have found that it doesn’t go away. But I can choose to not “borrow fear anymore.” The heart can’t be tamed or reasoned with. You can bury fear, but it comes back as depression. So I now live with fear. It’s just a part of my life now. I acknowledge it, minimize it and move on.
The safety nets are gone. It’s sink or swim. And that’s okay. Because today I know I’m staying above water. There are no promises for tomorrow. The funny thing is — the safety of living small when I was working a desk job were just an illusion anyway.
So I ask you to join me. Call fear out. Know when it is masquerading as common sense or prudence. Let it wash over you but know that it doesn’t own you. Remember you are more than your past successes and failures.
Love with abandon.
Live with fear.
And create your art. The world needs it.