Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Surviving the Artistic Process

As I mentioned in another post, I am reading Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales, a book introduced to me by my brother. We share a great love for the wilderness. We also share surviving a difficult childhood. But it was a surprise to me when writing in my last post (Truth) to realize the artistic process is a lot like the survival process. Diving into art is a bit like a walk in wilderness. Sometimes I know where I'm going, often I think I do, then the landscape changes dramatically. Sometimes the harder I stick to my original vision, the more lost I get. Sometimes I need to "remap" to get where I'm going. Sometimes I'm just plain lost.

According to Gonzales, research suggests when a person gets lost, he or she goes through five general stages, similar to the stages of grief and dying. First is the denial "that you're disoriented and press on with growing urgency, attempting to make your mental map fit what you see." Second is the realization "that you're genuinely lost, the urgency blossoms into a full-scale survival emergency." In the third stage you struggle to "form a strategy for finding some place that matches the mental map. (It is a misguided strategy, for there is no such place now: You are lost.)" Stage four is where you "deteriorate both rationally and emotionally, as the strategy fails to resolve the conflict." And stage five, is where "you must become resigned to your plight. Like it or not, you must make a new mental map of where you are... To survive, you must find yourself. Then it won't matter where you are."

Here's what I get to learn during my walk in my artistic wilderness. To be true to myself, find myself, and trust myself. It might be tough sometimes, but geeze, the view is incredible!


Shawna said...

Is that photo of you or Ms. Mara? I love it. It's so beautiful.

Lisa Sloane said...

My brother took that photo of Spike and me Thanksgiving 2006. That is Icehouse Canyon, Mt. Baldy, in the San Gabriel mountains. We grew up in the shadow of these mountains and they are an integral part of my makeup.