“Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.”
— Muhammad Ali
It’s 39 days after the initial Creative Capital Professional Development meeting, and this is by far the hardest entry I have written. I find myself thinking about so many other things that I would like to get done, but “CC Essay Due” is sitting right there in the middle of my calendar, highlighted in red, for today. I start the laundry, I do everything else on the calendar, I get a snack, I complete email responses that don’t need to be completed until much, much later, but still, “CC Essay Due” is right there in the middle of my day today.
I can’t push it off another day. If I procrastinate any more I will never find the time to get it done. I can already hear the very mean little internal dialogue to myself when I don’t get the article to Ana on time, who’s main goal is to give us a voice and let other people know about our progress in this blended learning program. The charm of the workshop has worn off as I kick my own ass into high gear and complete my task list everyday. The program is really helping me with discipline, and organization. It would be an emotional blow to my schedule if I didn’t get this essay done.The charm has worn off all right, and now it feels as though I am fully committed to running the marathon of my life as an artist.
In marathon running there is something called “The Wall”. This “Wall” it is a very real, physical, mental, and emotional breakdown which can take down any runner, and usually occurs somewhere around the 20th mile. The “Wall“ goes something like this: you start to feel a creepy foreboding sensation come upon you… slight at first, and then your legs are filled with lead, your stomach disowns you, you lose the ability to think about anything else except for the agony you have intentionally brought upon yourself when you decided to run this marathon. The strongest athlete can be in the fetal position on the side of the race track. If you pass someone who has hit their “Wall,” don’t look back. You want to help, but you trained and dedicated everything you had to this race, so you look forward and continue.
I believe there is a metaphorical “Wall” for anyone who has chosen to follow their heart and soul and do what they want with their life, especially in the arts. Right now Creative Capital has gifted me this inspirational tool of running shoes. I have to push myself to lace up and go for a run I don’t have to be the best, but I do have to be honorable to myself, my work, and to all the people who have believed in me and supported me in my decision to live my dreams. I am the connector to the other godly world of art. It is my responsibility to myself and all those around me to make the connection, to reach my potential, and to continue far beyond that potential.
I am now giving myself time to think, breathe, read, regroup, reorganize (thank you helpful organization webinar by Byron Au Yong) and reconsider what is important to me. I am aware I have only a finite amount of time to be able to obtain my dreams and to create the work that is burning inside of me. I am radically redeveloping my life to be more committed to myself, and learning how to say no. It really is a beautiful word.
So maybe this blog post was just an internal inspirational talk to myself, but I think if I am feeling this way, there is a very low likelihood that I am alone in these feelings. As we wade through the murky waters of trying to make a living as artists, its easy to get down on your art practice, yourself, your peers. It is hard to stay upbeat when you are drowning with work and cradled in debt. But really, we have the ability to create culture, influence society, and cultivate relevant communication through our lives and work. We have both a voice, and an obligation.
—Colleen Gutwein is a documentary photographer working in Newark, NJ. and currently developing “The Newark Arts Photo Documentary Project” (www.newarkartsphotodoc.com)