Last year I wrote a little list of things that I learned while working at my public studio at the Workhouse Arts Center. I started compiling this list some time ago, as I came to some realizations.
Being an artist is one of the most challenging choices you can make, so I think it is worth documenting the things I learn along the way. Ultimately this is one of the reasons I have this blog. So, here is this years list (2012-2013)
1) What I feel is not as important as what I think.
2) What I feel often comes to me in the form of nightmares, stress-headaches, diarrhea, nausea, painful muscle cramps, painful stomach cramps, “hot flashes” – where I start to sweat just thinking about what is going on, difficulty sleeping (both in going to sleep and waking up in the middle of the night covered in sweat, with my heart thumping), obsession on simple phrases – but what I’m feeling isn’t really in words but mostly all the physical discomforts or symptoms.
3) What I’m thinking can be very difficult to put into words.
4) I appreciate when people are empathetic – when people are aware of what is making me uncomfortable, and they put it into words rather than me having to put it into words. Or even better is when they help to resolve the issue without needing to talk to me about it at all because the talking only serves to make me more uncomfortable with the situation.
5) I can’t expect people to be empathetic, or even to be on my side. In fact it is probably better to simply be surprised when people are empathetic, while being fine when people are not (not holding it against them).
6) When people don’t understand you, and especially when they don’t understand me – it is best to simply move on. If they where not empathetic enough to understand what was making you uncomfortable without an explanation you are most likely setting yourself up to be attacked once you explain it. Most people will tell you that, “you shouldn’t feel that way” once you do explain it. But… that is just another guilt trip, you can’t help feeling what you feel.
7) There isn’t much point in telling someone that they should or shouldn’t feel one way or another – this is guilt tripping. Feelings come and go, and it is remarkable how different life circumstances can give different people different responses to the same situation.
One person can feel sad while another person can feel angry, and another can feel overjoyed – all in similar circumstances.
8) Sometimes you have to move away from a conflict that will not be resolved. “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.” (Matthew 10:14 ESV)
9) In my case it can be loving not to tell people what I really think of them. But this doesn’t make me a good person for thinking about them in this way.
10) It is worth repeating an old, old lesson, “You can’t be a good person but every minute spent trying is worth it.”
11) If i get very angry it is useful for me to fast.
12) I need to write more often and read more.
13) I’m not a fan of commercialism so I need to think about ways to live simply.
14) We don’t really deserve anything in life we just get what we get. So, do your best to respond to whatever comes with love and dignity, patience and character.
Very different lessons learned this year. (my wife hasn’t looked at this yet so, sorry if it is full of mistakes!) Last year (2011-2012) came with its own lessons if you want to look at those: https://mdkiehl.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/things-ive-learned-in-one-year/