Have you ever thought about what you'll leave behind?
When my wife and I found out we were going to have our first child almost 11 years ago we were obviously very excited. After a month though, something else creeped in on me. I realized I was bringing someone into the world who would someday stand over my coffin.
You probably feel like you're reading a blog post from a morbid whack job but stay with me.
For the first time, I started to view my life with an end point. I would literally have panic attacks trying to fall asleep, it was like death wanted to let me know it was there someday. How'd did I manage to sleep? I'm not sure you're ready for the answer. I found a pre-natal yoga DVD. No joke. You could find me in the front room of our house at 1:00 AM doing some amazing breathing techniques with the flexibility you never would guess a big man had. It was the only way to get my mind and body to rest.
Why am I telling you this?
I think we're hard wired to create (In other words, be creative). There are things in our lives we naturally gravitate to doing and when we do it we create art. It's unique to you and it brings you life. This is your art. We'll come back to art in just a second.
Three kids later and sometimes I still get hit by the thought of what will last beyond me. I think about what voices my kids will hear in their head when I'm not present (In death or middle school). So, when our first was just a toddler I started a bed time routine with her I do with all my kids. We call it, "Five things." It's not uncommon to hear my kids say, "Dad, are you coming upstairs to do five things?" Let's be honest, doing five things sounds like a lot of physical activity...I say five things to them. What I say to my daughter is different than what I say to my boys.
To the boys the five things I tell them are:
1. Dad loves you.
2. Dad is so proud of you.
3. Dad thinks you are very funny.
4. Dad thinks you are strong.
5. Dad thinks you are so awesome.
Then I ask them to spell their name. I ask them who gave them their name and they answer, "My dad did." Then I ask them why I would give them that name? And they say, "Because my dad loves me." Then we finish the routine with a hug and a kiss.
As soon as the kids are old enough, it becomes something like a quiz. I don't say it any longer, they say the five things back to me. I want my voice to silence any harmful voice they may face in the future.
Here's where my morbid mind, art, and bed time routines collide.
I don't want my boys to think I am proud of them for what they do. I am proud of them for what they are made of and that is reflected in what they do and what they create. This is how I feel about your art. I am not proud of you for what you do, I am proud of you for your art being a bi-product of who you are. If you choose to push back the art, if you deny this space where you recreate what you love about ourselves, than you simply deny the positive expression of what you're made of.
I AM SO PROUD OF YOU.
You probably need to hear it. Because you probably need to ship your art. This is you and if you don't say it, write it, create it, or whatever art you do than you aren't creating something to last beyond you. And as Maya Angelou said so well,
People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Your art makes someone else feel something about themselves even though you might not have complete confidence in yourself. If you say nothing, create nothing, ship nothing, do nothing...how does someone else get the chance to feel that? It might be time for you stop watching someone else's story and start creating only what you can do.