Sunday, June 1, 2008

Risky Business

I like Cally's fire; check out her comment here.

"Risk" is a term used by artists quite often, isn't it? But like "fear", the concept doesn't feature in my life often. I fear car accidents, so I don't jump in front of a speeding car, but I don't even use these words often, particularly pertaining to weaving.

Two or three years ago, I noticed I became matter of fact about my weaving. Before that I loved every single piece I wove and didn't want to part with any, ever, but now once they're washed, pressed, dried, labeled and passed quality inspection, I can't wait to see the back of them. In fact, I now have around 10 pieces from the last 14 months and I don't know what to do with them; they've been shown, they didn't sell, they're not exactly Red Gallery or Sue Bateup's Gallery material, so they sit in a neat pile on the floor of my stash room, and I walk around them felling annoyed they still live here. I've given away few to charity. They're not ugly or bad pieces; I'm just over them. I check them with objective, critical eyes, and then I'm finished with them. (It's a good thing I don't have kids or pets, wouldn't you say??)

I need to weave between three to five warps to understand the characteristic of a particular yarn before I feel I know them. So I think it's stupid of me to use an unknown yarn when I have two weeks or three days for an exhibition or commission. But I do, and that's stupidity, not risk. I also change plans at the last moment, or decide to redo something at the last minute, but these are bad planning, not risk.

What I think I'm thinking is, I don't think I'm particularly reckless, but I don't think I stick to safe things only, either. I don't understand what artists mean when they say they are taking a risk.

It's been a very strange weekend, friends. To make up for not posting earlier in the month, I started writing about quite a few things, but couldn't finish any. I have over 20 drafts now, some with just the title and some with a paragraph, others with a bullet list of ideas or few photos, but I can't concentrate on any.

I keep thinking about Pekka Kuusisto and his ability to love his art so passionately, and wonder how on earth could I feel about my work even 1/100 the way he feels about his. More urgently, I am envious of him having found his thing, or having been born into his thing, (his grandfather, father and brother were/are musicians/composers), and how lucky is he to have had his thing in his youth.

I know I would not have been a good weaver if I discovered it in my teens and 20's, because I was much too impatient and hedonistic to try anything as slow as weaving. I remember a time in my life when one afternoon was forever. But I do remember, surrounded by cousins and friends who started piano and ballet such from age three, that the sooner I found my thing, the happier I would be, and the more I could contribute to the universe. In my teenage years, there was a time I was almost angry because even He didn't call on me, (I went to a Catholic convent school). I worked hard to find my thing, I studied reasonably hard and minded my parents reasonably well, but I couldn't and I knew that in the greater scheme of things, my life was being wasted, ergo I wasn't pulling my weight.

I look at Pekka's clip and envy the energy he pours into his art, and for his knowledge that is his purpose and the reason why he's here. He probably works hard at it and is undoubtedly immensely talented. And I am not deluded enough to compare my ability to weave to his ability to make music. But I am finding aging hard. Not the emotional stuff, I prepared for it for over a year and I thought I was in a good place, but I never thought the body would go so suddenly. I'm not seriously sick or injured, but all the minor complaints I've had in the last decade or so have all come home to roost, with gusto, at once, and I realize this physical decay is a one-way street. I will never have the kind of energy Pekka displays, or indeed I once put into my sports and poetry writing and my studies. And I want it so badly now that I've found my thing and am about to embark on living my life.

It doesn't excuses my spending two days gazing at the short YouTube clip. I could have woven several small pieces instead. But I feel sad and guilty having wasted my life to now, of having been deprived of my vocation. I feel angry, and I find this anger unpleasant and unproductive, because I thought I was emotionally prepared.

I hate being 50. I need a new identity.

6 comments:

  1. oh Meg. I have a lot of things I would love to say but they sound like perky platitudes when I type them, so I won't. I just turned 40 and I so relate to the feeling that my life is beginning at the wrong end of my allotted years.

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  2. Oh, no, no, no, no, no!!! Do say them, type them, pulleeeeze, Taueret! I promise I won't say stupid things like, "enjoy your 40's because it goes quickly", like I was told. I'm still not quite out of my 40's yet - or my 30's for that matter!!

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  3. Maybe you have to wait till you are 70 to find some peace? Maybe 50 is not the time to find it? Maybe 50 is the time to be angry at the betraying body. And it has betrayed you, as it betrays all of us. Be angry but see if you can channel that anger somehow into your weaving. I remember going to look at pieces online by a woman weaver you very much admire and who must be in her 70's. Talk to her? Meanwhile, consider stupidity to be daring. Turn your language upside down. What you talk about as stupidity is actually risk-taking. And don't come back and tell me that I am wrong! Ezplore the possibility that I might be right. On rare occasion, I am right....(grin!)

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  4. Oh yeah, Peg, I'm learning. That is, sometimes when I first read your words, I think, "I do thing totally the opposite way, and yet we seem to try to arrive at similar places", but I'm picking up that you're right 99% of the time. LOL.

    Betrayal. Yeah, and Mom says it only gets worse, good lord. I am paying for my sedentary, hedonistic life of the last two decades. Ben and I quite like food, for example, and enjoyed indulging in that in New Zealand. I've sporadically been athletic, especially when there was a clear winners/losers in what I was doing, but this exercise-for-fitness thing feels like punishment.

    I'm thinking my 50's is going to be another purgatory; it's my make-or-break decade, perhaps.

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  5. Hi meg,
    This also strikes a strong chord for me as I will be 50 next year! When I look at some younger artists it seems they they 'got it' quite early - I seem to be delayed - and although I have explored weaving since I was 20 I have had to do what I had to do to earn a bit of money during some of the time. There is so much suffering and unhappiness in our world that creating textiles seems something uplifting that is in the joy side of human existence. This alone makes the pursuit and creation of art a necessity coupled with its capacity is express the human condition.

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  6. Hi, Kaz. At the weekend workshop, I got a lot of flack for complaining about being 50 from older people, so I wrote about that. Then, Chef Marie was speaking to the entire group at the end of the workshop (we all had to) and one of the things she casually said was that cheffing was hard on the body and she couldn't imagine doing it when she reaches 50, and I just burst out laughing and felt a bit deflated that someone as energetic and passionate about her vocation as Marie was putting a time limit to her career.

    Having said that, compared to a whole lot of people I know, I have had a cushy life and I know I should shut up and get on with life, too. I know this. Julia Cameron says to redirect our anger and use it as creative motivation/energy, but I'm still angry and disappointed and still looking for ways to convert this to an energy source.

    At the same time, having a whole weekend of wallowing in self pity and writing about it, and only about it, really helped me - my joints still hurt, and the ringing in the ear is worse, but I can't stop seeing the funny side of this.

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