The Task of Meaning-Making
by Dianne Albin
[From the book: The Van Gogh Blues]
woman and an artist, and also having reached my 50th year, I find I
have many questions about the life I have chosen.
searched the literature on what it means to be an artist, on what it
means to be creative, I am no less puzzled. As with art, there is no
all-embracing answer or point of view.
perhaps that is the crux of this paradoxical life. We embrace a life of
solitude in order to embrace our creativity. We live outside the
mainstream of life and struggle endlessly to survive both emotionally
the depression and the deep creative block I was experiencing prodded
me ruthlessly to find some meaning in my dilemma, some way to survive
the ordeal and heal the wounds if possible.
self-help books were too shallow and offered merely a Band-Aid remedy
to deeper issues, while current psychology was a theoretical nightmare.
the many bits and pieces, I did garner a pair of essential questions.
Why have I chosen this life and to what end?
it wasn’t for financial gain or success, as measured by contemporary
can I say the endless solitude or financial dependence is something one
would actually choose if given a more practical, thoughtful moment.
What then is the answer? Whom can I ask?
this will sound trite to many, but it ?really is that simple, I’m
afraid. With the dawning of human consciousness, the search for meaning
entered the equation of survival.
not enough to have food and shelter; the questions of who am I and what
is it that brings meaningfulness to life also became significant.
our ability to think and feel, I believe, to see beyond the immediate
concerns of the given moment that plunges us into an eternal search
that seems to defy our finite existence.
limited by our frailties, our fears, and yet we pursue the endless
question to find some meaning.
work we attempt poses the same questions. Perhaps this time I will see
more clearly, understand something more.
is why I think that the attempt always feels so important, for the
answers we encounter are only partial and not always clear.
its very best, one work of art, whether produced by oneself or another,
offers a sense of possibility that flames the mind and the spirit, and
in that moment we know this is a life worth pursuing, a struggle that
offers the possibility of answers as well as meaning.
in the end, that which we seek lies within the quest itself, for there
is no final knowing, only a continual unfolding and bringing together
of what has been discovered.
this deep and abiding need to have one’s own voice, one’s own vision?
struggle in itself has proven more difficult than I could ever have
this need to separate and distinguish my deepest self, my own true
thoughts, feelings, and beliefs from the accepted norm of society?
I think, has been both the gift and burden of human consciousness. As
much as we cling to one another and desire to be part of our human
group, we know that we are truly separate. For all the many devices we
utilize, we can never quite overcome our separateness.
we grow older the question “Is that all there is?” becomes more
paramount, more insistent. For those called to the life of an artist,
this question of meaning, of singular identity, comes sooner rather
experience came at the somewhat early age of six when I encountered the
artwork of another.
was it that I experienced at an age when I lacked the words or
understanding to process this encounter?
there were those who had the capacity and ability to invest paint,
canvas, stone with our deepest feelings, thoughts, and experiences and
make an art that both embraced and explored our humanity.
create, to express the depth and experience of our consciousness of
being alive, all the while knowing that death hovers nearby, that is
what we do.
this sounds a bit esoteric, I can only suggest that after we fill our
bellies and find shelter from the raging elements, we occasionally
pause—and in that pause we desire more than anything to understand and
feel our humanness and perhaps see more clearly, if only for a moment,
the wonder that surrounds us.
life as an artist helps me to fill that vessel, and on occasion I am
able to share that with another.
there meaning in my struggle, my endless solitude? Yes, I believe there
is, for at the very least I have found greater meaning for myself in
those artists who have come before me have perhaps more clearly
expressed, our ability to ponder the questions that denote our
humanness are worthy of a life of solitude.
is where I find my solace and my courage.
final analysis, it is the art that I make that allows me to pause and
briefly see. Only now do I begin to understand and accept both the
burden and joy of my life.
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Excerpted from The
Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person's Path Through Depression, by
Eric Maisel, Ph.D., the author of more than thirty
books - some titles at right >
Also see articles by Eric Maisel on the inner life of creators.
[Photo: Writer/Artist Linda Armstrong, from the page: Painting.]
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