It’s not easy being an artist.
First, you have to come to terms with the fact that you are one. Which isn’t easy in a
world that is generally ambivalent (at best) and sometimes hostile (at worst) to the
sensitivities of the artist and his or her art.
You also then have to put yourself out there. Which isn’t easy because most people
sit around judging rather than doing it themselves.
It’s scary and vulnerable and weird. It’s a constant forging forward in the face of all
kinds of obstacles set forth by a corporate-driven, commercialized and monetary-
Artists are not generally revered, except by other artists. And they often live in a
society they don’t quite understand, never quite feeling in-step with how the rest of
the world seems to operate.
The pressure to fit in is a real challenge, and if we’re not careful, we can start to
listen to the “normal” people who don’t understand what it means to be an artist
I was on safari in December and the guide – Headman – started telling me how he
went through a period in his life questioning what he was doing. His life dream was
to study animals and lead safaris and educate people about wildlife preservation –
and then he started listening to others.
Which meant doubting himself.
As a safari guide he is certainly an artist. And as such, he is subject to the same
challenges we all face.
Parents. “Experts.” Well-meaning friends. Ex’s.
“You should be married by now.” “You should have a girlfriend.” “Why don’t you
make more money?” “What can this lead to?” “When are you going to grow up and
get a real job?” “You’re missing out on the good life.”
Headman began to question everything. He began to wonder if he made a mistake.
The thing he loved doing – observing animals in their natural habitat – began to
become old hat to him. He became bored and lost a sense of wonder. He would
robotically drive visitors into the bush, “Oh, there’s a rhino,” he thought. (As if seeing
a rhino was like seeing a normal dairy cow.)
A tremendous amount of soul-searching occurred. He deciding to stop listening to
people who wanted what was best (and more convenient) for them (but not for
himself), and he slowly regained his passion for what he wanted to do.
“Look! There’s a rhino! How amazing is that?”
The lesson learned is to not allow ourselves to be contaminated by drops of poison
that people (sometimes in a well-meaning way) seem to disseminate.
Headman said he had to start “seeing things anew – and get back to planting flowers
and appreciate the beauty in it all.”
Safari is a metaphor for life.
Get out there. Seek the experience. Stay out of the end results. Go on the adventure.
Commune with nature and animals who wish to teach us presence and living in the
moment. Trust your heart. Listen to people who support what it is you want for
yourself. And mostly, do it for yourself and be in a wonderful f*ck it.
That’s safari. That’s life.