A Life Bigger Than Your Art

This was a day at the beach, Diana+

I wish I could remember where I recently read that one must always have a life that is bigger than one's work, or one's art.  The thought has been traveling with me since.  My journey seems to expand in fits and bursts like this, and I've been watching it ever since the first time I wrote all the way to the fence (audio recording of that piece at the end of this post, print version available here).  Every time my work expands, my life has to expand as well.  I raise the stakes, deepen my awareness, place my feet even more solidly yet on Brooklyn earth.  I get enlisted in Love Boot Camp.  I face my shadow in all her gory and renegotiate our peace.

I can only imagine that our work would stagnate without this willingness to create to our borders, and then blow them up and explore beyond them.  We become vulnerable to producing gimmicks and imitations, without new artifacts to display from our personal geography--the life and the self which are, as Julia Cameron says, the origin of our work.

I don't enjoy it, it's not like a day at the beach. I don't always like what I see, in myself or my relationships. In fact, usually I don't.  But if I cease to see myself and my surroundings as honestly as I can, then my words will just posture and pose and leave a bad feeling in your eyes.  If we are to make good art, if we are to be true to our work, it requires courage.  Courage to let the work expand, and courage to live a life that is bigger than the work. Bigger than the art.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.  --Anais Nin