Caterpillar: Who are YOU?
Alice: This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.
As a child I loved the story of Alice in Wonderland, then it was a silly series of adventures for Alice in a wonderful upside down sort of place. As an adult reading it, I realized that Lewis Carroll also had a serious message about what it feels like to be an Artist. Perhaps he was trying to illustrate to the readers what life was like for creative people living in a very ordered and serious world. Did Alice represent the “Left Brain Thinkers” of the world entering into the mind of a “Right Brain, Creative Person”? I would like to think so as many of the crazy things that went on in Wonderland are way too familiar to the stuff that goes on in the Artist mind.
“It’ll be no use their putting their heads down and saying “Come up again, dear!”
I shall only look up and say “Who am I then? Tell me that first, and then,
if I like being that person, I’ll come up: if not, I’ll stay down here
till I’m somebody else”–but, oh dear!’ cried Alice
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Some days we feel just like Alice, lost in who we are. Our vision of who we should be and who we have become seems to conflict with each other. What are we to do about it? How do we get where we want to be or be the person we think we are? Who exactly are we anyway?
The answer to the question “Who am I?” is simply as The Duchess states: Be what you would seem to be…
You cannot be an Accountant, Lawyer, Car Salesperson if you are truly an Artist; oh you will be able to do those jobs and you may do an excellent job of it, but somewhere deep inside your soul you are crying just like Alice. It’s not easy to be an Artist, we have one of the most difficult challenges there is to a profession and that is selling our Creative Brainchild(s). We aren’t trying to sell widgets or count money and then at the end of the day go home and forget about all that till the next day. We carry who we are and what we do around with us all day, all night and even when we sleep. When people don’t want what we have we feel personally rejected.
Yes, the life of an Artist is a hard one but remember this, it is a hundred times more difficult to be an Accountant when your heart wants to be the Artist you know you are. Trust me on this as I have spent more than half of my working life trying to do just that and it almost drove me insane.
Once you know who you are then all you have to do is figure out where to go from here. That, my friends, is the hard part. It’s not impossible but I won’t kid you the Artist life isn’t for sissies!
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” asked Alice
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” said the Cheshire Cat
“I don’t much care where –” said Alice
Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Actually it can be easier than that if you do care, make a plan, work the plan, change the parts that don’t work and never lose the faith! First before all that, know who you are!