What self-forgetfulness reveals

Without a doubt, your little idea is going to grow. We’re rooting for your acorn to turn into an oak tree.

But bringing that acorn to the lumberyard, hoping to make a sale … you’re wasting your time and their time too.

Most people are waiting for a proven, tested and popular solution.*
(Seth Godin)

The acorn is not the finished article, it’s natures way of making more oak trees.  Give it time, nurture it.  Lots of acorns don’t grow into anything, but with some intervention, it’s likely that every one would at least make it to a sprout, if not a sapling.

The other thing is, whatever it is we’ve been looking at as an acorn may not be an acorn at all when we take a closer look.  Then the last thing it’s going to produce is an oak tree.

Flannery O’Connor made the important point for us:

“In art the self becomes self-forgetful.”**

We find our art where the past and the future merge into the deep present, where we don’t notice if this is or is not what we ought to be doing but we’re simply immersed, exploring, producing.  When we find our art we no longer see ourselves.

When we lose sight of our art it can be because we are becoming more conscious of what others are doing and comparing ourselves.  Elle Luna writes:

‘And we might even find ourselves as adults still living in a world of should from childhood that were have not consciously examined.’^

Whether implicit or explicit, shoulds are the things others think we ought to be doing or we think we ought to be doing like others.

Just last night I heard someone speak about how their own artwork was unfolding.  I found myself thinking, I ought to be doing something like that.  Then I caught myself, and I laugh.  I do not have this person’s taste and interests, I don’t have their talents and abilities, how could I possibly do what they do?  A few years ago we’d walked together through the things this person loves to do.  What I love is to help people do what they want to do.  Claudia Madrazu writes about her diary initiative (development of intelligence through art):

‘start the session by performing a physical activity that enables them to bring their attention to the present moment, feel their body, name their emotions and be connected to themselves’.^^

Because we can’t be anyone else.

This is what we learn when we become self-forgetful: this is who we are and this is our art.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: Selling acorns at the lumberyard.)
(**Flannery O’Connor, quoted in Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.)
(^From Elle Luna’s The Crossroads of Should and Must.)
(^^From Drawn Together Through Visual Practice.)

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