“Truth is the only voice free of selfishness.” John P. Lasater, IV
There are words that cause a response from the heart. And there are words that feel like the cold slap of a different reality. For the artist seeking to follow the heart, the difficulty can come in finding the balance where the heart and reality meet in harmony. It is a joyful sight to see so many artists answering the call without being slapped down by some description of reality. When profound words stimulate that heart response, it pays to heed them.
While reading the words of artist John P. Lasater IV in an article for The Missouri Valley Impressionists Society blog, I felt that heart response that is the big, “Yes!” Lasater tells the story of how his friend and mentor asked him to do a little exercise. The exercise entailed placing pebbles representing specific abilities in groups based on personal talents and interests, grouping them according to how each felt to the heart. A struggle to listen to the heart can emerge from the process. As Lasater describes the outcome, it can be life changing. Follow the link for the article to read the whole exercise here.
After reading Lasater’s wonderful story, I then ran across another story with the exact opposite effect. Writing for ABC News is Michelle Goodman with an article titled, “Memo to Artists: Don’t Quit Your Day Job.” My first response was, “Bummer.” However, the article has many valid points of practical reality to pay attention to. Once the cold slap of reality abated, it seemed there could be another way. Can the heart be followed while balancing reality without drowning the creative flow? The answer may be in how the balance is achieved.
Some day jobs are more draining of the creative flow than others. Since many artists are not independently wealthy, meeting practical needs without cutting off the energy needed for making art is where the focus must be. And therein lies the difficulty. Perhaps a second exercise can focus on the reality pebbles while continuing to listen to the heart. The heart will point to the day job reality least likely to drain the artistic energy. Some day jobs may even enhance creative flow. The point is to listen. The heart doesn’t lead astray. Follow where it leads. The heart always speaks truth.
John P. Lasater, IV is one of the founding members of Heart of America Artists Association whose blog can be found at: