Indecision is a kind of fear that can be paralyzing: Shall I do this or shall I do that? Fear is also a natural response to taking a risk- what have I gotten myself into now? (This is a recurring question for me!)
I was thinking just this when I was preparing for my exhibit, Another Night in the Ruins. After getting Galway Kinnell's permission to use his poem, I jumped in and invited sixteen poets and musicians to respond with a poem or music to one of my paintings. I had a vision of this culminating in a poetry reading and musical improvisation at the opening of the show at the gallery. What I hadn't taken into consideration was that although at this point the show was comfortably months in the future, I would need to have 16 paintings resolved enough to send digital images to these artists a couple months before the opening. Yikes! Did I make the wrong choice?
I consoled myself with the words of the jazz musician, Bill Evans, when he decided to move to New York City and make a go of it. Being terrified at the prospect, he said to himself: All I must do is take care of the music– even if I do it in a closet. Someone will open the door. So I said to myself, each morning in my studio, just take care of the paintings- don't worry about how long it will take! (Which was helpful, as this painting you see here is 4 feet x 3 feet, and the smallest lettering of the poem is in tiny 1/8 inch high heiroglyphic letters with a small pointed brush).
Fear of making a mistake will keep us from being creative, as creating involves making mistakes, rejection, doing things that don't look good and often seem foolish. But taking risks– intentionally moving away from where we are comfortable– is key to vitality, to discovery, and to making work that is authentic.
We cannot know how something will come out and take a risk at the same time.
Marie Howe says:
(fear)...that I might make the wrong choice, because I had decided to take that plane that day, that flight, before noon, so as to arrive early and, I shouldn’t have wanted that.
What does that last line mean: and, I shouldn’t have wanted that.???
It could mean that we often censor ourselves from wanting what we want. When I first thought of contacting Galway Kinnell, a world famous poet, I said to myself: You can't do that! We begin to reach for something we yearn for, and pull ourselves back. We doubt ourselves, don't trust our own experience, and perhaps don't even know what we want.
We can counter this by giving ourselves permission to go where we have not ventured when the question arises: Am I allowed to want this?
Rilke once said: Our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasure.