Jan 09, 2024

I kept turning up the volume on my car radio this past week. I was listening to “The Break-Up Song” by Francesca Battistelli, describing an imaginary break-up with FEAR itself. In a fun bossy way, but in no uncertain terms, the singer orders Fear to get lost.

“Fear, you don't own me
There ain't no room in this story
And I ain't got time for you
Telling me what I'm not
Like you know me… well guess what?
I know who I am, so Fear, you will never be welcome here!”

It's a fun song addressing a demoralizing emotion – especially in our creative lives. Fear whispers, “you’re not,” or “you can’t,” or “you won’t ever be able to.” Sound familiar?? We ALL have to deal with it, no matter what stage we’re on in our creative journey. And every so often I need to recognize its presence, and like my singer-friend Francesca, deal with it in an authoritative way, and refuse to let it “get in the driver’s seat.” 

Recently I took on a commission involving painting a calligraphy mural on the huge wall of a new office lobby. I’m not going to lie. I was terrified. Behind the line of text, my design called for some large swishes of free form color. Sitting on the scaffolding there was that moment where I just had to go for it, fear and all. Once I started, then my creative brain engaged and I was on a different track. But it took a big bold, scary, BEGINNING stroke.

Now, that’s a rather extreme example, but I think the principle is the same. Whether it’s turning the page in our journals and starting fresh, making that first brushstroke on a brand new canvas or sheet of watercolor paper, signing up for a class or even a painting trip (we have TWO EXCITING ones coming up this year), the idea is to take ACTION whatever your level and break that chain of paralyzing fear. To be sure, art has so many uncertainties (can you say, “paralyzing?”) and potential disappointments that our art might not turn out (Ummm, “paralyzing!”) However, underneath it all, there is only one person in this whole wide beautiful world who can “DO YOU!” No one else has your voice! Think about that for a moment. Out of the 7.8 billion people who live on this earth, you are uniquely YOU! So strive to make visible what can only be expressed by YOU. Let’s continually remind each other that fear is not meant to be a main character in our stories.

Artists have come up with all sorts of strategies for dealing with this enemy, called FEAR! You might even have your own...

Here’s a strategy and quote, attributed to Goethe, I love and often remind myself. At the beginning of this brand new year, I hope you claim this for yourself as well!

So here’s to being YOU and beginning… again and again and again!

Happy New Year!