It’s unclear to me whether creative types (artists, writers, musicians and so forth) are more susceptible to self-criticism, depression, etc., than other sorts of people. What is clear is that the inner critic is never more ready to pounce on my day than when I’m about to do something creative with my time.
It’s mid-day on a fresh, breezy Saturday. I am in my swimsuit and a skirt (we went to the beach this morning) preparing to work on a canvas I’ve started. A pretty big one. Maybe 3′ square. The composition is sketched out and I’ve applied the base color layers. The subject of the painting is a sequel to one I made in 2009 with me and Ben and Santa Barbara in the background and all of these magical goldfish swimming through the sky. In the new painting Ben and I are actually inside a giant fish, swimming through a dynamic sunset over our city, Laguna Beach. (We recently moved back to the city where we met and fell in love. A city I’ve wanted to settle in since the moment I laid eyes on it. It’s marvelous here).
Before I get to work though, I find my thoughts heavy. You know, the kind of thoughts that weigh you down with accusation. You’re no good. You are so selfish, rude, bad-mannered…you are hopeless! Ugh. What a weight of doom. On a bad day, a day when my cumulative sleep-deprivation from hungry-at-night baby has not had respite, I’m not too great at extinguishing this ill-speaking blaze. There are days when it goes from tiny spark to a forest fire in the soul and I let myself get burned by the inner dialogue.
But not today. It occurs to me that these thoughts are very likely not healthy and certainly not helpful. I do wish I were more unselfish, modest, well-mannered and more of a listener than a talk-your-head-off chatterbox. However, there is a mustard seed of faith in me that tells me I was born for better stuff than this negative thinking. So I am sitting at my computer and opening a small Bible with this really cool magnetic cover on it. Here’s what I see: (and this is my “heart” translation – not the literal text, but I think it is accurate):
The hopelessly selfish earthling asks: “So, LORD, what hope do I have?”
The Wonderful Creator answers: “Me.
I’ve got your back. I’m not ashamed of you, even when you behave badly. I get you and I like you. A lot. Don’t worry. I really AM your hope. And anything and everything good in you comes from Me. Just dial in. I’m your Hope and I’m your Source. My love is the ‘beauty that fills all spaces.’ My love in you is stronger than your human weakness. And if you let it, My love can pour out of you and touch others’ lives.”
Pfew. What a relief. Now on to my painting. And for the record G-d, thank You. You really are the best Counselor in the whole universe.