Saturday, January 26, 2013

Can You Stand Being Lost?


Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
Steal Like An Artist, book cover, iPhone screenshot of Kindle edition

I found myself turning the lush pages of Lynda Barry's book What It Is because I read the minimalist styled pages of Steal Like an Artist: Ten Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative. In the back of the book, Austin Kleon, a fantastic living artist, left a tidy list of 10 or so books that influenced him. This one by Lynda Barry was on that list.
Lynda is another fantastic living artist who makes powerful work. She's worth sharing. Here's a nugget that struck home:
"To follow a wandering mind means having to get lost. Can you stand being lost?"
Just quoting Lynda like this isn't fair to you because it doesn't give any sense of the richness and power of her work.  Here's a photo of the page where this quote lives and breathes:
Page quote from Lynda Barry, What It Is
Photo of Page quote from Lynda Barry, What It Is, by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson
This is saturated, colorful, layered and intense.  All that and she's got great content.  Can You Stand Being Lost?
Whether clinging to vertical career paths in a gig-based labor market, expecting consistent good health throughout life, or goaling ever faster run times in the face of age, when I need my life to conform to a certain map, I am NOT standing being lost. When I need everything I do to have a purpose, to align with my goals, I am NOT standing being lost.
There's something gained by leaning into the lost times. Moses was probably on-plan when he saw the Burning Bush. He went to explore it. In a sense, he got "lost". He followed a wandering. And his life, his purpose, his mission were forever changed from what he knew before and for good.
It's important to have a plan but it's also important to wander, to stand being lost.  Both are critical to becoming. Elsewhere, in Anna Farova's book, Josef Sudek, Poet of Prague, Anna quotes Josef, a fantastic Czech photographer with a long career in photographer from the early 1900s onward:
"I have no particular leaning toward....the all too clearly defined; I prefer the living, the vital, and life is very different from geometry; simplified securing has no place in life."
New Year's resolutions seem like Sudek's geometry while the year that unfolds will be different because it is living and vital. As I begin the New Year, I have no particular leaning toward a resolution of any kind but to ask myself the question,
"Can I Stand Being Lost?"
All writing and images by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2013

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