My Road to Freedom

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“Art is two things: A search for a road and a search for freedom.” ~ Alice Neel

Growing up I was made to learn piano. I never really wanted to and I think perhaps my parents were attempting to live vicariously through us kids (sorry Mom and Dad). My entire family is musical, some remarkably talented, even. For me there was always a sense of competition around music that I don’t think I necessarily created myself. Perhaps somewhat, but certainly my parents trying to motivate us through making comparisons between siblings and cousins fed that monster, for better or for worse.

Music is definitely a part of me. It’s something that has always felt like a natural and important part of my life, but when it comes to making music, I feel as though the purity of the art has been tainted. I can’t seem to write or play or sing without my inner judge making constant, harsh critiques, and this has been a major block for me for as long as I can remember. My inner critic can be an extreme bully when it comes to music and this is so frustrating because all I really want is to be free. Freedom is the air that creative expression breathes. I LOVE music so deeply, am a passionate listener and have a deep appreciation for so much of what I hear……

Unless I’m hearing myself.

This doesn’t mean that I have given up on music. It means I have been presented a challenge. Every time I sing, or approach an instrument of any kind, it is my work to try and keep my ego out of the picture…..and man, is it a challenge. And performing live? That is about the most terrifying thing imaginable for me and I can just barely get over myself enough to go there. Why don’t I just stand naked in front of a large group of people? Because that’s exactly how it feels for me. I remember the recitals of my past….the shaking, the shivering, and the sense of genuine dread that accompanied each performance. That was possibly the most scary and vulnerable thing in the world to me, and still is. But you know what? I am getting over myself…..bit by bit. And I think that is important work.

I am not done with playing music. I still play and sing and occasionally even perform, but I sense it will never be anything more than a hobby for me. That is perfect, because that’s all I need it to be.

But music aside, here’s what I find most interesting about where I’ve ended up: Out of ALL the things on this planet that I could be seriously using to express my creativity, I’ve decided to make art out of silverware. Not music, not drawing, painting, not drama, not a more popular or common discipline……….but silverware. A sort of odd medium, I suppose!

I wonder if perhaps I needed to practice an art form that was relatively rare……a road less traveled…..in order to find my own way. Sure, I could have attended art school or taken lessons to learn “proper” jewelry or sculpture making techniques, and perhaps with materials that are a little more commonly used, but in my case, I’m not sure that would have been advantageous. I wonder if I would have ended up comparing myself to others and throwing in the towel before I even had the chance to hone my skills. That seems likely, thinking back to the me of 10 years ago.

But thankfully, here I am.

My art has allowed me to reconnect with something that has been buried deep within me all of these years: Freedom. This art is healing me, and every day that I spend creating, I get over myself more and more. And do you know what? It helps me find the courage to do other things that scare me, too.

Silverware has provided nourishment for me….on more than one level. 🙂

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