Process, Habitat and Filters

How often do we forget about the process and the passion and the purpose of what we’re doing? And for how long? I’ve been a sufferer of artist’s block for years. I’ve fallen prey to impatience, frustration and lack of inspiration. Something sound in myself had given way and I had been free falling ever since–falling too fast to grasp at anything and hold onto it. The insecurity was depressing.

Today, I’ve realized what was a block was actually a filtration problem. Sometime during my first “major artistic breakthrough” as a young adult, I had stopped filtering the loads of information, energy, possibilities and RESPONSIBILITIES coming my way; subsequently, I lost my connection to the process. I became overwhelmed, and responded to the overload by not sticking to one thing long enough to finish it. Or not finish it well. I was stressing over things I didn’t really desire (hello, job hunt), which in turn held me back from the things that I needed. I just wanted things to be done. It was self-induced Attention Deficit Disorder. Just from the Internet alone I want to pull my hair out. There’s just so much…

Entrepreneuring presents the same challenges, because entrepreneurs, like artists, take on the colossal task of creating something that is an expression of themselves. (In many ways, entrepreneurs are artists.) The good news is we live in a gloriously vast world of information and inspired people. The bad news is creating a personal filter in the Information Age is a daunting task that is unique for each individual, and so there’s no universal formula that will magically jolt anyone out of a block. Some people filter naturally. God bless them.

For me, the problem was that I was focused on getting a job to the point of exhaustion, focused on the outcomes of each of my endeavors to the point of discouragement, and had forgotten the significance of the process to the point of giving up. The answer to my woes was everywhere, seeds planted daily in my life for the past few months: forget goals, embrace change, read, do… no matter what, meet people, slow down, success isn’t an end result, discipline is a myth, rituals, habits, depth of experience, give, be ever curious.

This month those seeds sprouted thanks to a video of Tom Sachs by The Selby. For some reason, that video (and perhaps The Selby as a whole), flipped a switch for me. Listening to what he had to say in his studio led me to an epiphany. Looking at all those artists living/working spaces drove home some of the missing puzzle pieces in my life: process, habitat and filters. I had failed to make a habitat for myself where I could filter out the noise and focus on expressing–mentally and physically; I had lost touch with process.

I’ve been delving into the process of becoming sustainably unemployed for months now. It’s finally transfered over to other aspects of my life, including drawing and painting. The process of learning to experience the process was fabulously organic. It’s proving to be cathartic, too. Life is wonderful if it’s allowed to be. And I must say, it’s nice to look back and see the growth.

Ironically, the key to filtering out information is more information. It requires taking in vast amounts of information, knowing what is needed, and understanding what isn’t important. Just never forget that the journey is everything (process), who you are is vital (habitat) and knowledge is power (filters).

Photo from The Selby.
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