Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear blog,
Happy birthday to you!
10 years old today!
DOUBLE figures, a whole decade behind me – wow! And who knows what lies ahead, I certainly could not have predicted even a tiny percentage of everything that I have achieved during the period of ‘Project Me’. And nor for that matter could I have guessed most of the things that have occurred in the world around me. Is it possible that the pace of things happening (be they personal, professional, global) has really accelerated? Or is that just how the sense of time works?
This week – at the gym, which is my current space of contemplation – I realised that I have a considerable fear of failure. This fear is something that, at the beginning of a new decade, I want to tackle. It feels right to make such a positive declarative statement about it. Wanting to get better at lifting weights it dawned on me that I will only get better if I risk failure, and conquering each failure is simply a step towards the next. This is not rocket science, nor is it bad, nor a weakness. It something that I have returned to again and again here, it is something that has been explained to me again and again on various professional development courses, and yet it remains something that needs to be re-visited not least because my point of departure is very adept at keeping up with me – how could it not be? – and failure (my own that is) is something that although I might understand I do not think that I have ever really been able to accept.
Having lived in Enköping for 18 months I feel as though I am sufficiently settled to be able to shake things up. Though to the external observer things might look similar there is a vast difference between being disenfranchised and vulnerable as the result of circumstances, and electing to de-stabilise things and take chances – to risk failure in the pursuit of success. If I only now am conscious of what I identify as my fear of failure then perhaps it is only now that I am in a position from which to engage with it. In other words it is time to move on. Over the previous ten years I have experienced ‘moving on’ literally and figuratively, I have both chosen to do it and it has been forced upon me in both personal and physical terms. And perhaps because of these (very real) situations it is possible for me to see that my moving on professionally has been somewhat in the shadows.
When I started this blog it was my intention to chart my progress as an artist and I remain committed to do that. What I could not foresee (though perhaps I should have been a little more aware of) was the enormous change in my personal life that steered me towards unchartered waters. On December 10th this year it will be ten years since John died. I like to think that I am a pretty grounded and sensible man but actually I am a bit of a dreamer and a fantasist (which in some measure is no bad thing for an artist to be). It was John who had his feet on the ground, who was able to make his flights of fancy real by creating the structures necessary to nurture and nourish them. So, with John in mind, I now (finally!) realise that being an artist is not the same as having a career as an artist. And in addition to being an artist I also want to have a career as an artist.
I think that having a career as an artist requires one to have at least one foot on the ground. Now that the ground beneath me is solid it can only be good to rest a foot on it, after all I am not in any position (especially financially) to be so free-floating. Yesterday, as I was doing my best to improve my ‘lift technique’, I was given the great advise to make sure that my feet were in the correct position before doing anything. It is remarkable how sometimes there is virtually no distance at all between the real and the metaphorical.
Time for new groundwork, new foot work. What are the things that will enable me to have a career as an artist – bursaries, project funding, shows, and sales(?): singularly, collectively, and in combination. None of these are guaranteed but if I want to “make serious gains” and have successes then I have to risk failures. I have to change my attitude towards failure and see it positively – as something that testifies to attempting progress, as an indicator of a temporary challenge rather than as a sign of permanent inability. From this point onward I am allowing myself to include failure in my process. Whether or not I achieve measurable results of this in the coming eleven months is less important than simply doing it – doing is the thing!
I can not think of a more fitting way to not only celebrate ten years of blogging but also to thank my family and friends for their faith in me. So the compass is set for this year, and with a somewhat clearer sense of direction, towards the next ten …
Now for a cup of tea and piece of birthday cake!
Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!