Sunday, September 12, 2010

Your adventure

Prior to doing art, Seal had the opportunity to study narrative theory at UC Berkeley. Because of this, she can see a pattern to everything around her, especially regarding the cycle of a person’s journey in life, and also their creative endeavors. There is an underlying theme to everyone’s life. It goes something like it this:

  1. You go on an adventure; along the way you make friends, maybe find the person you like/love, and a rival.
  2. You come across an obstacle, you try you try and you try, and just when all else looks like failure, something will click, you summon up the courage, a skill, or magic incantation . . . a miracle occurs.
  3. You overcome the obstacle, you return victorious. Then you go on another adventure . . .

Take any film or even your own life, and you’ll notice a pattern too. Take the story of Disney’s Aladin for example, he wants to marry the princess, but he doesn’t have money or prestige. He goes on this adventure to find the magic lamp. He gets thwarted by Jafar several times, shit just keeps getting worse, until the situation looks impossible. Jafar turns into the most powerful sorcerer, the princess is captured, and Aladdin is banished to a far-off place. (He could have given up at this point, but he doesn’t). He uses the magic carpet, flies his way back, and uses his wit to trick Jafar into turning into a genie, thereby imprisoning him within a lamp. But in my version, after a victory, this is just the beginning of new adventure. Maybe he goes to City College, has to learn new skills, wants to be a renown artist or something. Music works in this way too. That's why there are often three movements: the enticing beginning, the change of pace, the crescendo break, and the finale.

What is my point in all of this? The trick to life is to know where you are in the cycle.

Are you just starting out on your adventure (learning a new illustration medium, considering art school, moving out of the house, or moving into a new city, a new job , etc)? Are you in the middle of your adventure? Probably the most dire and monotonous portion of the journey where it is full of repetitive trials (for students, you must pass classes in order to move up a grade, or as artists you come across a block in expression, that you must overcome, either by filling your life experience with something new, learning a new technique, or change of medium altogether. Are you near the end of your journey, where all hell breaks loose and you can’t seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel? Ride it out. I promise you, it’s there and it’s rewarding.

Once you know where you are, there are certain tips and tricks to help make the journey less scary.

In the beginning of your journey: explore the terrain, talk to someone who’s been through this path before. If you landed in the middle of no-where island, what’s the first thing you should do? Gather information. Where am I? What do I need? Who knows how to navigate through here? If you’re an artist you probably have your creative heroes that you would like to be? Ask them how they got to where they are today.

If you are in the middle of your journey, make sure you think the end is worth it. If it isn’t, quit right away and get onto a path that is worthwhile (because the journey will be long and sometimes tiresome, so it has to be something that your passion can boost you up during the hardest trial). For example, if I am trying to be an artist, but I have my ladder against the corporate ladder of McDonalds, no matter how much work I put into it, being the manager or CEO of McDonalds is not the end result I want. (I’m not criticizing you, if that’s what you want to do. It just doesn’t make sense for me to climb that ladder, if I specifically want to be an artist. On the other hand, since being an artist is my end goal, when the hard times hit, like no income or gallery commission, I am still happy doing art for myself. My passion for it, has and will sustain through the darkest of times). If you find that you are on the right path, then lean into it! Keep leaning and keep climbing!

At the end of your journey, when you are victorious, congratulate yourself. Acknowledge the hardship and the accomplishments (like finishing high school, college, or getting that job, or learning a new skill, navigating in a new city, or creating that really awesome painting). Then after a moment of rest, ask yourself, what’s my next adventure? What’s next?

Then someday you can write an autobiography of your journey, to leave behind the blueprints for the next generation. It can be as epic as a trilogy of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or Oprah. It can be titled : "how I overcame (blank)" You fill in the rest. Good luck on your adventure! and remember that you are not alone.

For more reading material, check out:

Hero with a Thousand Faces

Morphology of the Folklore

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