Sunday, February 26

helen doesn't work here any more redux

When I go to the studio I no longer say I am going to work. I say "I am going to go make some work."

It is taking me years to unwind my status as an employee. And as a boss. I look forward to being able to say "It has taken me years" but it's still with me, I'm not there yet. It's still painfully present tense. Of course I have to do work that falls in both boxes (worker bee/manager) but why am I still using the language of boxes?

I still waiver between idealized versions of working. I think I am choosing between a fantasy stress-free idyllic blissful field of meandering creativity and a clamped down turn-on-the-timer and churn-out-some-product mindset. Of course it's a false dichotomy but somehow naming it doesn't help.

The truth is that I've never been an idyllic blissful field of anything. Even as a 5 year old I felt the weight of the world on my slight bird-bone shoulders. Yes I have been engaged, curious, super-focused, in the flow, yes, all of those things, but idyllic? Stress free?  Has the world and all of its needs fallen away? No. I have been a good little worker bee (for other people and only for a while!). But honestly that stopped working for me the moment I became self-employed. Thankfully creativity doesn't thrive under the whip.

These extremes are just another guise of perfectionism, versions of a mythic age of innocence to get back to or a heaven to look forward to, and I don't believe in either. There is nothing to get back to. There is today. There is me and the materials I work with, my tools, my hands, my eyes ... and there is a vein of curiosity to tap into – heck, there are several to choose from – and all I need to do is pick one and follow it and make the work that needs to be made today. It's simple: I am going to go make some work.