Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The War of Art and Climbing Through Fear

I have had a lot of very kind and supportive comments recently. They remind me not only how giving other people can be but how much of a positive impact the comments, no matter how small, can have. It makes me determined to remember to pass the treasure on.
I have to say that I am no different from any other creative person. I have to overcome the same fears that can prevent a person from getting started, taking the plunge, and moving forward. Fortunately for us weavers and fiber artists, there is a lot of people out there who have gone before us and left us tools to break through our personal and artistic barriers.
Last year the Seattle Weavers Guild had Mary Zicafoose come to give a workshop and program. Needless to say, as those of you familiar with her and her work already know, the program was excellent. She had a book that she often quoted from and gave us the title. It is called "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield. I have read it several times as it is an easy read and I find the book inspiring. I really think the book should be called the War of Resistance because resistance, whether it is to an idea, getting started, getting out of bed, or even finishing a project, is the biggest force we all fight. Steven Pressfield is a writer so much of the book draws from his experience in that medium but his words apply to all. It is a book that I in turn have recommended and even given as a gift.
I will give you one quote from his book on fear. "The amateur believes he must overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows that there is no such thing as a fearless warrior, or a dread-free artist."
I have recently had this illustrated to me in an area that doesn't really seem to be related to art but it is connected. Last fall I started rock climbing, in the gym. A lot of people ask me why a 45 year old woman would want to start rock climbing. The are even more incredulous when they find out I am afraid of heights! So why rock climbing? It intrigued me for years but I let the fear of height thing stop me for a long time. I finally got tired of the fear and realized that it wasn't going to go away so I might as well do it anyway. I immediately fell in love with the sport. For me, and other climbers, there is a wonderful mind/body connection that climbing has. You have to use your mind as well as your body and that is good for both. When I first started climbing in the gym, my fear would only let me get about half way up the wall. Every time I climbed a route I would go one rock higher, until I finally got to the top. I can get to the top now with ease.
Here is the point I want to make of all this, the fear is still there. It hasn't gone away. Every time I climb I have to battle the fear and I still love to climb. Art is the same way. Every time I start a new project, I have to overcome the resistance of starting...and ending it. Some projects are easier than others of course. The bigger, and more public, the project the more fear and resistance. Climbing has taught me that I can do it anyway and even enjoy it.
I am not the only weaver or artist who also climbs. I personally know a couple of other women who are weavers and who also enjoy rock climbing and more. I am beginning to think that there is more of a connection than first appears on the surface.
I am going to start rock climbing outside soon as I love to be out in nature. I am looking forward to the challenge.
So, time to prepare the first skeins to be dyed with Chestnut extract.
Check out the "War of Art" by Steven Pressfield if you haven't already. The ISBN is 0-446-69143-7.
What are some of the fears you have "climbed" through? Think back and realize what you have accomplished and know that you have it in you to continue on, even through the fear.
One other thing I love about rock climbing is how well it lends itself to metaphors for life.
Climb on! -Renee

1 comment:

dana said...

You were the one who first told me about the War of Art and I too have read it many times and given it as gifts. (Thanks!)Fear is such an obstacle. I certainly have never overcome my fears, but sometimes now I can act anyway.