Learning to Exist
I want to exist.
I stared at the words I had just written in my journal and let their honesty sink in.
I was completing an exercise for a digital business course I was taking and, for the first time in perhaps the 3 or so years I had been running Merle Made Tales, was considering why I had started in the first place. Not the surface reasons of making money on my own terms, creating a living from my art etc, but the real, deep down, deeply personal reason for following a calling still viewed by many as unrealistic, delusional and just a pipe dream.
I want to exist. I wrote.
The words struck my heart like a bell and rang pure and true. I want to mean something I wrote after that. It felt like a yearning. Like I had excavated inside of myself and unburied a small, twin heart whose beat I had been aware of but had never stopped to listen to. I want to speak my own truth and to be heard I wrote.
Who knew a business course could offer up such profound revelations? But also, who knew it would take a business course to discover something so fundamental to life as existence?
As an artist I had realised a long time ago that my artwork expressed thoughts and feelings that I could not express through the written and spoken word, even to myself but when I decided to start Merle Made Tales I was unaware that the driving impulse was anything other then to earn a living from something I actually enjoyed doing; something I had seen my parents struggle to achieve my whole childhood and wished to avoid.
Now, as I contemplated the essence of what was written on the page of my journal, I began to understand that the succinct and easily repeated earning a living from my art type phrase was really like a protective shield, a shell to cover the delicate underbelly of truth.
In a society that strives to corroborate the existence of only a small minority my desire is, perhaps, nothing new and only too human and yet it often feels unreachable. It had remained undiscovered inside me for so long because, I realised, I felt slightly ashamed to admit that the existence society deemed mine wasn’t good enough for me and also that 3-4 years of carving something out for myself hadn’t got me much closer.
Giving voice to the universe that dwells in my soul through art goes some way towards the fulfilment I crave but art, once spoken, also seeks an audience. For the longest time I assumed that this need for recognition was simply the people pleaser in me, yearning for someone to pat me on the back and tell me I’d done a good job, that they were pleased. But I’ve begun to realise it’s more than that. To exist as an artist there needs to be a circular flow of energy. I offer my art outward and for that circular motion to be completed I need my artwork, like a message in a bottle, to be found and read and appreciated for the hope and magic that is contained both within the bottle and the meeting.
Merle Made Tales is my way of finding that flow. But where is that balance? Where does my existence lie? I don’t have an answer except that, like Dorothy, I suspect it will end up being in my own back yard.
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