Friday, October 17, 2008

Meet Challenges; Have Life

There is the fork in the road. We never have much more than a split second to make the right turn, the right decision. Similarly there is that point where we are faced not with a decision, but a challenge. It is that point where we are literally facing a hurdle, where we can charge forward and jump as hard and high as we can in order to clear it, or we can balk, and stare at it and go back.We can run away!  It is the four point turnaround in basketball. It is the difference between living and dying!

I can't pretend I haven't balked at my fair share of hurdles, but this much I understand: we are our challenges. Yes, you could even say, we are our problems. If we take them on we have a life. If we run, then we are always on our heels. Owning our problems can mean owning our lives. The well kept secret is that when we can say "It's my problem," we've already made it manageable; we've already started to take it on.

Artists get to understand this in a fluid way. It is part of the process. Making something, anything, at some point presents challenges. Not meeting those challenges means the process breaks down, stalls, comes to a halt. The challenge is not just part of the process, it is what makes us who we are and what we will become. Artists instinctively understand that not only is a challenge our friend, it is the one friend we have, and have to have. Without a challenge we are nothing. It is amazing what kind of challenges artists create for themselves sometimes. It confounds other people. "Why would you do that," they ask.  Not much different from someone setting off to climb a high and dangerous peak. What's that all about?

By accepting, even embracing challenges, artists own their lives. It makes them strong. It makes them free. It makes them alive! What could be more valuable?