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Accepting Ourselves… and our true delights

Sometimes as artists, we practice a self-loathing aesthetic that is like what adolescents do in terms of their physicality. This is a self-loathing that sets in and says whatever we are, it is not as good or as beautiful as whatever it is the other one has. If we are small, dark and exotic, we want to be tall and bland and blonde. If we are a Nordic goddess, we wish our eyes were brown and not cobalt and that our skin looked like a sultry Gauguin. In other words, whatever we are is not what we wish ourselves to be. Comedians yearn for drama; dramatic actors crave comedy. Born short-story writers lust for the National Book Award for their novels; natural novelists scream for the stage. Not that we can't do more than one thing, but one of the things we should let ourselves do is what comes naturally and easily.

So why don't we?

Art is not programmatic. We cannot "improve" ourselves into great artists by doing creative sit-ups. Great artists are actually the greatest amateurs-- from the Latin verb amare, "to love." They have learned to wriggle out of the seriousness of rigid categorization and allow themselves to pursue the Pied Piper of delight.

If we stop trying to improve ourselves and start trying to delight ourselves, we get further as artists. If we lean into what we love instead of soldiering toward what we "should," our pace quickens, our energy rises, optimism sets in. What we love is nutritious for us.

"We are all born children-- the trick is remaining one." -Pablo Picasso

8 Comments on "Accepting Ourselves… and our true delights"

  1. I agree strongly with these statement Julie. And at the same time, Miley Cyrus has just succeeded in going viral again with the opening of her sculptures in SoHo, and her art is purely about delighting herself, yet I wonder if anyone who has seriously studied art can agree that what she has done has any true validity as art. Wondering how you feel?
    Kimberly Donars LPC
    Art and Psychotherapy, Denver CO

  2. First comment !!!

    Hehe but a bit more seriously, I’d love to change Picasso’s quote and instead say “We’re all born human – the trick is to keep the same active and creative perspective.”

  3. Thank you, Julia, for this! It’s just what I needed to read this morning as I was about to feel guilty again for my delight in playing and discovering life. I love your phrase “to pursue the Pied Piper of delight”!

  4. Profile photo of Katrin Navessi

    LOOOVE these words, so true that we always want to be different then we are…
    also love the Picasso quote, so true!

  5. Kathryn says:

    I am excited to have found your blog after recently finishing the first 12 weeks. These 12 weeks have been all about validating and giving a meager bit of kindness to my artist child. This child is someone I was vaguely aware of in the past, but only as a concept. Now I know that she is real; she is expressive and she is responsive. She has needs that have not been looked after, but she is forgiving and resilient and does not question the past. She is simply happy to have been found. Your “pied piper of delight” struck a deep chord with her because she loves all things fairy tale, and I can feel her hoping that I will stop trying to improve myself and start trying to delight myself. I may need to write out “What we love is nutritious for us.” as an affirmation. Thank you again and again. You have started my journey of healing.

    • Teresa says:

      Thank You Julia and Kathryn! I miss playing too and seriously looking for reasons to live. I can relate to letting the child somewhere in me artfully play which has been denied to her since day one.
      We’ll give it a try !

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