What is My Art?
When I was in coaching school we were each given a question by our teachers that we were asked to live with for the year. We did not need to try and answer the question per se, we just had to be with it—ask deeply—make it our mantra.
The questions were designed to dig into our blind spots and help us expand into new possible ways of seeing ourselves.
We all nodded in agreement as the teachers went through the list of our peers, assigning them each their custom tailored question: “oh yeah, that’s a good one.” And then they came to mine, “Catherine, your question is ‘What is my art?’”
I didn’t understand this question. I was not an artist. I couldn’t paint or draw or play an instrument. I didn’t have a funkycoolstyle of fashion to make me stand out. In fact, I’m the girl you would find staring at a red splotch on a large canvas at an art show, brow furrowed, bewildered by all the sentiment of everyone around me-trying so hard to see what they did, but never able to see anything more than a red splotch on a large canvas. I have never given any reason for the word “art” to be in any way associated with me. I was just an ordinary girl trying to sort herself out. So I raised my hand and suggested that maybe they gave me the wrong question. “Nope,” they said, “that’s yours.” And smiled and carried on.
Like I do with most things I don’t immediately agree with, I tossed the question aside and figured I would just wing it when the time came to report my learnings next year.
But, it kept popping up in my mind.
“What is my art?”
“What is my art?”
“What is my freaking art?!?!”
No matter how many times I asked, the question made no sense to me. Still, I had paid a lot of money for this school and I’d be damned if I didn’t take advantage of every lesson from it, so when in doubt, consult dictionary.com. I looked up the words: creative, creativity, art and artist. Along with the typical definitions I expected were the following:
- the quality, production, expression or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
- a person whose work exhibits exceptional skill.
- the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination
- resulting from originality of thought, expression etc.; imaginative
Well, I certainly have a vivid imagination and I have never really lived my life by the guidelines of what our culture’s traditional ideas or rules are, so there is that. But what really stood out to me was “The quality of producing what is beautiful.” I loved that. So, I looked up the definition of beautiful.
- having beauty; possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc.; delighting the senses or mind: a beautiful dress; a beautiful speech.
- excellence of its kind: (a beautiful putt on the seventh hole; The chef served us a beautiful roast of beef.)
- wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying.
AH, now we are expanding. As I read these definitions over and over I began to see and understand that being creative—having an art—was as simple as bringing something forth into the world that did not already exist—a skill, a trait, an idea, or expression that brings pleasure or satisfaction.
I asked myself again, “What is my art?”
Then it hit me. I am my art. I am the expression.
I was neck deep in the study of myself. I was facing my demons and I was looking at my role in the world. I was coming to know myself and I was learning to express myself in ways I never could before. By getting closer to who I am and what I want in life I was becoming more skilled at articulating my ideas, my visions, my joy and my love, my sorrow and my pain—allowing others to see into the depths of my being.
As a way to explore myself further, I began writing. Writing was not anything I had ever spent much time with, but now I was doing it—craving it. But, still I realized, writing is not the art, it is the medium which I have found to express my art, my art is me. Through it I allow others to see into and connect with my soul, which is producing many beautiful, beautiful things, like love and understanding, empathy and wisdom, curiosity and presence. All the things this world needs more of; all of the things that are exceptional and progressive and extraordinary. This is my art and I offer it to you.
What is your art?
What skill, trait, idea or expression are you bringing into the world?
What do you do to delight the senses?