Quick: What's the difference between a maze and a labyrinth? ::plays Jeopardy! theme song::
For one, mazes have dead ends--but labyrinths have one way in and one way out.
The former is frustrating, the latter is meditative.
When I was in High School (over 30 years ago... *wince*), inspiring English teachers influenced the hell out of me. Already a voracious reader (I'd go to the library with a tote and come out with 5-7 thick books--and have them read in a week), the world of symbolism, theme, etymology, poetry forms and literary analysis captured my imagination.
I also had a kick-ass art teacher in 9th grade who made sure we knew the names and artists of 100 famous pieces for our final exam--as well as how to do linoleum carving from our original drawings, throw (and bake) pottery, shading, perspective and more.
Although I wanted to "be" a few things "when I grew up" (and accomplished a few)--FBI profiler, lawyer, minister, writer, teacher--the excitement and wonder of "art" stayed with me for decades.
Until I actually became a published author.
And eventually lost the idealism and joy of what it means to behold--and even make--art.
One thing that's drummed into your head when you're on the path to publication is that it's not art--it's a "business". And you must "act" like it by becoming business-minded--hustling, figuring out ways to market without sounding like a carnival barker, working your ass off towards the next "offering", letting people know of your books without being spammy, making "authentic" connections for networking (but really, the aim is how the other person or group can further your visibility or career)--ad nauseum.
Produce, produce, produce.
Hamster on a wheel. Girl on a treadmill. Working, sacrificing, and working some more.
Years ago, I read a blog post from a smart, talented gal who said that an online "biz school" basically "ruined" her.
I believe she was talking about just this thing: when having to "sell" your work and self drains the joy of creation. When what was once fascinating and fun becomes...a chore.
Long gone are the days of "art for art's sake". In fact, a few months ago, an astrology blogger asserted in her newsletter that "no one makes art for art's sake; for it to matter, it has to have a purpose."
I took umbrage. "Do you really believe that?" I asked her.
She never answered me.
In 2018, my last book Naked Tarot was published. It clocked in at 110K words. By the time it hit the shelves, I had lost most of my desire to write.
I saw words as more as a tool for haters to hate, liars to propagate and hucksters to manipulate.
Gone was the anticipation--the rapture!--of distilling complex ideas so that people could not only understand them, but actually apply them to their lives in the pursuit of self-knowledge, authentic living and personal meaning.
To make a difference in the world. To slay mediocrity.
Words became weapons on social media--and, frankly, I was so tired of the slings and arrows.
Of having to be PC and walk on eggshells lest someone lead a mob to destroy your reputation and career. Of carefully crafting your words so that you can subtly let people know of your books and decks for sale--but not come across as a hawker.
Of having to think 100 steps ahead to the next blog post, the next social media post, the next book, the next side hustle to (maybe? finally?) make some coin.
Fast forward to now. In the midst of a global pandemic. For the last year, my passion and joy has been...jewelry making. Yeah, I do the aromatherapy thing--scents are great--but I really, really love playing with beads, baubles, wire, stones and crystals.
It doesn't make me hardly any money (but then again, neither did writing books). And I've been chasing my tail asking "What's the point?" Srsly, what good is it to have (literally) a suitcase full of unsold jewelry? Isn't jewelry made to be worn? Isn't it functional? Mostly...practical?
But wise Mr. Ron--my beloved hubby (who's an artist)--said:
"Who cares if you don't sell your jewelry? They're beautiful! Hang them on the walls around the house. Wear them. Get them out to look at them!"
Needless to say, I've had a hard time coming around to his oh-so-impractical viewpoint.
But you know what? I'm there.
Now, more than ever, I realize the importance of personal meaning. Of doing things that feed MY soul. Of living life as a quest--for not only knowledge (which never left me), but also for BEAUTY. Beholding it...and creating it.
A journey within, and back out, in the quest for beauty.
Back to my center. Back to those perennial ideals that many sage philosophers offered as damn good reasons for living--and thriving--which fueled, and comforted me, in the past.
No more mazes. I'm so outta there.
I'll leave you with a video that I watched last night. It has helped me dust myself off and re-mount the horse of personal, meaningful idealism--a reason to live outside of my wonderful family (which is awesome, but still "outside" myself)--and back on the road in the Quest for Knowledge and Beauty.