What It Means to Live as an Artist

Posted on September 21, 2015


Stephanie Carnes NYCHola, friends and precious strangers! I wasn’t sure when I’d ever circle back around to wordpress to share new insights, between getting schooled by Corporate America and spells of introspection and mojo searching. But I’m finally hitting a stride where I feel ready to pick up anew, crawl out of my shell, and begin talking about things that matter again.

I’ve found New York to be a land of many shells with people inside. Many are hiding and running at the same time. Many are either expressionless or full of expression, though both sides of the coin seem to hint at an inner longing. In the Big Apple, you have to choose to get out there each day. You take the jobs that present themselves and keep moving. Despite my slow-fashioned mentality, I’ve been blown away by the people here, blessed even, to see an inherent resolve to survive and succeed at every level of society.

For those of you who live in other parts of the country, perhaps in real houses surrounded by something called a yard, you might be wondering about the glamorous hipster alternative called life in Brooklyn. Let me just say, a daily Manhattan commute coupled with trying to pursue one’s dreams, is a chore not without shabbiness.

I’m indebted to the Gothamist for covering my subway trivialities with such fervor and will highlight our shared disapproval of manspreading here. But, there are many instances in a day that slide under the radar. Like the ‘Homeless Lady Growled, Threw Her Turkey Sandwich at My Face’ incident. Thankfully, I’m not a vegetarian, but no one likes to be force-fed. My quick duck and cover maneuver led to a happy outcome nonetheless, as many birds dined on the splayed sidewalk fixings.

All that to say, I’ve been seeking hard after activities that help me feel alive and worthwhile. I am recognizing my inability to really live or stay positive if I can’t, as many a good FB meme has advised, live in the moment. Here’s how I am breaking it down:

L’ego My Ego

I’ll say it again but in a less waffly way. Set ego aside. Namely, set aside the opinion you have about yourself, as well as the opinions of others. Pursue instead: 1) your best self, which can only be obtained through humility, 2) your goals and dreams, in spite of lack or fear, and 3) encouraging others.

Within every whirlwind of commotion, I must listen to the Creator who says, “Stop, wait, listen, appreciate…” And, when it’s time to proceed, you will know. This is wise counsel.

I have the following passage from one of my favorite reads pinned up on my wall, “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke, and soak it in frequently.

Always trust yourself and your own feeling, as opposed to argumentation, discussions, or introductions of that sort; if it turns out that you are wrong, then the natural growth of your inner life will eventually guide you to other insights.

Allow your judgements their own silent, undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be forced or hastened. Everything is gestation and then birthing.

To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist, in understanding as in creating.

Chau for now.