6:30AM. The sun is high already, shimmering on the lake. All is quiet except for two crows having a conversation over the trees. Yesterday, I was in Magog and while sitting at on a terrace along the lake enjoying lunch, we started to see the athletes participating in the triathlon appearing along the water. Their paddles hitting the water in unison, the first canoe came into sight. How exciting to see these two athletes so dedicated and focused on keeping their first place in the race. Everyone started clapping their encouragement. It was quite exciting. They were way ahead of everyone else. A little later, a second canoe came into view and went by. Again muscles pumping, heads down, focused, sipping on water through the tube attached to their reserve. The effort looked tremendously hard.
Dedication and focus. Why would anybody want to put themselves through so much work? What pushes people to go beyond themselves while some others just sail through life without wanting to do anything but relax. Is it what we would call an addiction? This desire to surpass oneself and become better, always the best or the best you can be physically and mentally?
I do admire these people tremendously. The ones that don’t question their role in life, the ones that know in the morning they will go and practice for four, five hours in order to maintain their main instrument, their body, in perfect shape to be able to compete in whatever event they want to, the ones that have made the decision to focus and work hard everyday of their lives. I admire the runner that trains for a marathon.
Anyhow, yesterday’s race stays in my mind and I am reminded that anybody who chooses to better themselves can do it. It is a matter of choice, a matter of choosing to spend our time working at something or just looking at life go by and feel the frustration of being out of control. This can be applied to anything we want to do. I sometimes wonder about the best way to attain a certain result though. I know that when you want to accomplish anything, the only way is to set your life up in a way that you cannot fail, find a formula for success and stick to it. If you want to better yourself at painting lets say, you must take an hour or two per day to paint. Practice makes perfect like they say. Repetition, repetition is the only way to better our skills. Time is what we need to be able to try different mediums, different techniques, different ideas.
As artists, it is also time alone we need every day. I realize now that I love to just get into myself and think about future projects, about different ways of applying colors, about all kinds of things. Reflecting on life and on art. Even if I often feel as if it is a waste of time, I know it is all part of the art process. This way of viewing thoughtful reflecting as a waste of time is based on society’s expectations that you must do something that can be seen all the time. You must be productive or else. For us artists, this reflection time is part of our work It is the flexing of our creative muscle. That is why dedication and focus are so important. In order to make our art vibrant and continuous, we need to spend some time thinking and refilling our inspiration cup.
I met another artist last Friday and we talked about this. He kept telling me he has not been painting in over a year because he is not getting any inspiration.” Inspiration, he said, is what I am missing”. I tried to tell him that inspiration or not, he should be working because it is often while you work that you get inspired. I think inspiration is overrated. You can feel inspired all you want but if you don’t pick up that paint brush, that pencil or whatever you work with, you won’t achieve anything. Nothing will get done. It is more dedication and focus you need once you make the decision to go in one direction or another. The first step is always to decide. Like the athlete makes the decision one day to send his life in one direction over another, us artist, must decide that our art is more important than certain other ways to spend our time. We must spend time thinking about but also physically working on our art.
It is by first by deciding, second by being dedicated, that we can accomplish ANYTHING.