Be Water

Change is hard. It's hard, because it's usually difficult to identify exactly what it is that needs to change. As artists, we give so much of ourselves. That is the work. We start down a path, and if we believe in it, we push with all of our might, until we are emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted. That dedication, that perserverence and willing self-sacrifice, is one of the signs of a true artist. But sometimes, it never seems to go anywhere; at least not for long, no matter how hard we try. In my previous blog, I wrote about the Myth of Sysiphus, and how we must learn to love our struggle, even if it seems endless. But it is equally important, to be able to face the truth of ourselves, and to be willing, honest, and brave enough to make a change, if change is required. To borrow another Greek myth, there's one of the river god, Proteus. Proteus, like the waters he was master of, could change his form to suit his needs. If one version of himself didn't work, he would try another. Proteus was pragmatic about what was useful, and didn't bind himself to a single shape. There was no time to be sentimental. Like the river, when Proteus's way was blocked, he would change his shape, and forge a new path. As artisits, our commitment to our craft can lead us down some obsessive rabbit holes. It is an occupational hazard. We must remember sometimes to poke our heads up into the light; to breathe the fresh air, and crane our necks up to the majesty of the stars overhead. To confide in old friends. It is in these moments of real life, that we are able to look at the life of our work, and consider whether perhaps we are digging in the wrong direction. It's alright to alter course. A change of direction is not abandoning the path. Ever hear the phrase, “stay humble”? It applies here. Instead, another sign of the true artist is be able to recognize when they have gone as far as they can go in one direction, and then to focus their energies elsewhere, even if only temporarily. A change of vantage, having to develop new skills, or simply a variation of thought patterns, can reinvigorate and refresh a tired mind. This is a long game. If you are an actor, have you been playing (or auditioning for) the same roles to the point of boredom? Try something wildly outside of your typical range. Make time in your schedule to work on new material. Try altering your look into something that is still you, but a different version. You may surprise yourself. If you are a writer, write something in a different form or genre as an exercise. It needent be long, only be deliberate about it, and work out that other part of your brain. What if you love it? What if it changes you? Stuck in the same daily routine? Take a class! Try a new hobby. Teach yourself something completely outside of your field, and take pains that you actually become good at it. Others have done it before! Make a trip out to nowhere. Just you. Listen to silence. Exist in the world. Find flexibility where you feel stiff. Steel is stronger than iron. Steel bends; iron breaks. It is so very easy to lean into the grindstone for so long, that we allow the world to pass us by. Life is for living. Art imitates life. If you do not understand life, how can you make art? It would be, at

best, “...but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more”. As noble as the pursuit of craft may be, do not allow it to stifle the majesty of life, which is the fuel for art. Even as, like Sysiphus, you push that stone up that hill, do not in turn become stone yourself. As the great Bruce Lee famously said: “Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. Put water into the cup, it becomes the cup, put water into the teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my

friend.”