I've been noticing lately how important it is for us to have experience to back up our knowledge. I think in striving to sound intelligent, say just the right thing, or offer the perfect piece of advice, we often completely skip the part of the process in which we actually incorporate information into our lives. It is so easy to access and relay information, especially in this day and age. But what I'm noticing is that this is becoming a huge cop-out strategy that allows us to never develop hypotheses or conclusions of our own.
I'm always stumbling upon ideas that I feel to be right or true at some level. I tend to find a statement that excites me, latch on to it, and start claiming that this is what I believe. Interesting, how our first reaction to incorporating a new idea is to proclaim it from the rooftops, as if this legitimizes it. Then, once we've obtained an okay from just the right number of people, we begin to advance accordingly. Wow, I have been really guilty of doing this.
Interestingly enough, after some time I noticed something incredible. I began to observe what happens when I tried to communicate something I'd never experienced. You can actually watch the other person wither in front of you, grow bored or (especially when trying to give advice) become extremely frustrated. Why? Because it's no different than me trying to explain what it's like to climb Mount Everest, when I've never actually even seen the mountain. I can relate facts and figures and maybe use a little imagination to spice things up, but it all falls flat really quickly. The way you communicate is scattered and superficial. You usually end up contradicting yourself or talking yourself against a wall. It leaves everyone feeling empty.
Sadly, I seem to find this tendency in so many artist statements or when listening to anyone describe their creative work. Again and again, it is so obvious that the artist has not yet really experienced what they are claiming to be their inspiration. We need to be motivated by more than a passing fact or figure. It is essential as artists that we incorporate the very essence of what inspires us into our lives before we frantically start searching for approval. Without experiencing your inspiration, you create work that, like my previous conversations, is scattered and superficial. Sure, you may have the skill and good eye to pull off decent, even good work. But without experience, your work will never have that thing. It will never be incredible.
What seems to be a most important factor in this is giving yourself plenty of alone time to experience. It can be tempting to want to talk about something before you are ready, but this can actually be self-sabotage. The in-between stage is often unsettling and you are quite vulnerable. You are not obligated to anyone in this regard. No one needs to know everything about what you are working through in your head. No one can rush this process. And no one, I repeat no one, can know you well enough to tell you what to do. This quiet time with yourself is so very important because it allows you to reach a point where you can eventually become quite articulate about your work and inspiration. Once you have experience, you will see how people are drawn to your work, how they are interested in hearing your perspective, how what you say can actually give them insight and inspiration for their own work. It is as different as night and day.
And I can tell you this, because I've experienced it.