Apologies once again to my readers…somehow life seems to be interfering with my blogging discipline of late. I began this post last week and then promptly forgot. It’s a topic I’ve been ruminating on for a bit, because I think it affects many artists. How often have you been told that your artistic pursuits are selfish? That your “absorption” in your craft is self-involved or even self-indulgent? As a mother, I often received this message from other women (so much for solidarity): if you really cared about your children, you wouldn’t spend so much time doing what you do. And then there’s the monetization aspect, because so much of the work one does as an artist is preparatory, experimental, solitary and painstaking. It’s not always glamorous (rarely, in fact) and it doesn’t pay well (often). So when you hold it up against, say, a CEO’s job, it doesn’t present well in monetary terms.
For the past few weeks, I have been redefining what “selfish” means. In terms of my practice, it means practicing when and what I want. It means not necessarily having a concrete goal other than discovery. It means paying attention to sensation, actions and outcomes without personal ego investment. In effect, it means curiosity without any expectation of payoff. It means art for art’s sake alone, for the sake of doing the act. This time of COVID has allowed me the space to consider these questions and to “selfishly” guard my practice time as sacred. Sacred in the sense of it being something I can hold dear, commit to and enjoy without worrying about setting a specific goal and having to meet it. It feels purer. I like it. Is that selfish? Or just good?