Saturday, February 7, 2009

wanted: focus

I both celebrate and take umbrage with chapter five of 12 secrets of highly creative women. I find myself increasingly annoyed with the author's narrow definition of the female gender. in this chapter, committing to self-focus, she includes a comment from an artist who declined to be in the book because it was limited to female artists. while I do believe that women have several unique characteristics when it comes to being an artist, I tend to agree with the decliner: it's about the artist, not the gender. it appears that when the author is referring to being female, she means "females like me."

the chapter goes on in attempt to persuade the overworked, over committed, caretaking, long suffering woman to take some time for herself and create. and please, please, please don't consider this half-hour of luxury to be selfish. with all due respect to those with very young children or an ill loved one to care for, the whole martyrdom syndrome is tiresome. the concept of sacred time to create is beautiful, but she cages it in this weird gender blah-de-blah and you lose the message. the pervasiveness of this martyr=female tendency makes those like me who tend not to take issue with taking care of myself or putting myself first on the list feel very un-female and a little wrong (ironically, later in the chapter, the author advises us to not judge those who do this...I have to say, I felt a little judged).

I believe that we make choices every moment about the value of our time, effort and commitment. quite frankly, if I have surrounded myself with people, work and commitments that require so much of my time and so much maintenance and suck every ounce of life from me, I have pretty much chosen not to be an artist. whether or not it is because I don't want to be an artist or am afraid to be an artist matters not. do you follow?

okay, enough umbrage. on to celebrating self-focus (well, just one more thing, the euphemisms!). I believe that this concept transcends being an artist and really is about being a functioning, viable, dynamic human being in this world. focusing inward on our desires, imagination, ideas and taking time for fun, learning, rest, solo adventure, reflection, silence and focus is required for a life well lived. the benefits of this time, coupled with setting those boundaries and not apologizing for it, make us better lovers, friends, mothers, caregivers, workers and artists. I do applaud the effort here to normalize this concept for those who have lost it.

our lovely book group host jamie does a fantastic interview with christine mason miller about this week's topic and challenges each of us to experience some focus on ourselves and our artistic endeavors and to support others (really, it's not just women) in doing the same for themselves.