Sunday, August 12, 2012

Be careful what you wish for.

  In interviews and convention programs, I'd talk about the challenges involved in making large kinetic sculptures.  I grew fond of telling humans that I liked the excitement of "operating just on the edge of failure."  Certainly there is a thrill when we push ourselves to the edge of our abilities.  It's an exploration of the unknown and it is both stressful and satisfying to succeed.  I had exactly five months to finish "Dark Caravan's" roller coaster.  It was everything you can imagine.
  In the summer of 2006, Ben Warren and I were just starting to get Strange Studios off the ground.  We had a number of employees, several interns.  They had salaries and dental insurance and our days were fast and furious.  I remember standing with my feet in the pool, talking  on the phone to a casting foundry  while Ben scouted locations for new work space.    It was exciting. We were pushing our limits.  We were in new territory.  Finally we had a studio that might help support us and our families so we could make kinetic pieces that would wow us.   Then the economy failed, my marriage failed and I passed the age at which my mother's cancer took her - all in a matter of months.  Ben lost his second business, his health and very nearly his home.  We lost our employees and our plans. 
  It was some time after that that I understood what it was to "operate just on the edge of failure."  There were some truly Faustian moments. Financially, emotionally and physically, I pushed my limits. I made discoveries.  I made costly personal choices.  My world grew small and plain.   Seasons blew in and out.  The world changed. Life changed.  I changed.  Perceptions, values, priorities all turned on their heads.  Silly humans must adapt.  The alternative is just too unhappy.  Not months of this, but years.
  Finally, I began to learn what sort of artist I was.  Then I began to learn what sort of human I was.    I learned about fear and anger and loss.  I learned about failure and regret.  I learned that I was much less than I thought.  I learned that I was more than I thought.  I learned that I was just like other humans.
  What really got me, finally, was realizing that, as the curriculum of living goes,
these weren't even the advanced classes.
  And then I became humble.   I kept creating.  It became my constant, my outlet, my survival. I learned to tread water, not to look ahead, and that every day didn't have to be a good day to be a cherished day.
 Except when I didn't.  Then I'd fall into the 'hole'  of depression, sit on the bottom for awhile and climb back out again.  Finally, I learned I could rely on myself.
   If blogs are supposed to teach, I'm guessing the best I can do is what I've been doing - telling you about my own stumbling efforts.  Hopefully you glean something useful from them.
I'm a little fearful for humanity right about now.  We're in a time of unrest. The weather is worrisome, the US elections too. Poppets teach me that the end was always near and always will be, but also that change is continuous.   It's always something.  Otherwise it's nothing.   And change can be exciting!  Now, we can start our mornings with new pictures from Mars.  There are still humans out there doing amazing things.  That makes me try harder.
  Today, I woke up ready to implement the list I made in my head last night, including writing here first thing in the morning.  Then- surprise! - my neighborhood was without power for about eight hours, at between 110 and 113 degrees with tornado warnings.  At first there seemed to be options - things to do that didn't require power were many.  But eventually, it became all about getting through the heat.  Which eventually meant going to the movies and eating at In and Out.  Very SoCal. Very fortunate to have that option. Very fortunate to have power most of the time.
  I want to push my creative limits again.  I may be doing this with books.  We shall see.  It's not going as fast as I'd like.  I'm not operating on the edge of failure anymore.  I don't fail.  I adapt. Humans tend to do this, even when they may not be aware of it.  As individuals and as groups.  I'm going to operate on the edge of a direction.  I'll keep working and stretching.  I'll see what happens.  I'll be present in these moments, except when I'm not.

If you're reading this, I thank you deeply for hanging in with me, to see what happens next. 



Yemi said...

Lisa. Dunno about learning from your blog, even if it is a treasure to read every single post. I think we need our individual butt-kicks from Life to learn anything. It is, however SO COMFORTING thah even people you admire tremendously struggle through it. So thank you for sharing that. You gave me courage and hope.

Yemi said...

ok. that did not sound right- sounds like i wish for you to go through tough times, which I don't. you know what i'm trying to say, i'm sure?

spacedlaw said...

Always a pleasure to hang around, to see you evolve.

Sue said...

Thanks for sharing your lessons with us, they always have something I can take away to think on the rest of the day.

Melissa P said...

Adaptation is a far more complicated process than we are prone to admit. Many people fight against it. That takes energy too. You've chosen to keep moving forward, no matter how halting and unsteady some of the steps may be. Brave and inspiring, that's what you are. I'm still out here, believing in your strength and eagerly awaiting your art. Sorry I've been so silent.

Drinne said...

Bravery is when we go on anyway, right?

I'm working on stumbling up. Your work as always, helps me remember up.

I miss you. I showed Poppetropolis and your website to an older lady in the hair salon ( the pictures live on the iPad) It was a whole story of it's own and a reminder.

chrisa511 said...

I read this post last night Lisa and it brought tears to my eyes..such a wonderful and honest post and I hope you find yourself stumbling to where you want to get in life!! I'll happily continue on your journey :)

DavidK said...

A very insightful overview of life, with elements that I imagine any of us reading your blog can relate to intimately. Certainly hits home in quite a few ways with me! One learns and grows by living, and most of it can't be told, only experienced. It's something we think about with our kids, but it applies to us just as much. As always, looking forward to the next post, piece of art, etc.!