"...there are three main avenues on which one arrives at meaning in life. The first is by creating a work or by doing a deed. The second is by experiencing something or encountering someone; in other words, meaning can be found not only in work but also in love." (Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning)
Can you flashback to an experience that left you feeling gutted?
That dreadful feeling when your stomach sinks and your mouth dries up.
As I alluded to in a recent Instagram post, my story as an artist and designer is unglamorous and still nascent.
But I sure as fuck remember every instance I felt gutted. Sometimes the work takes shape beautifully, and I watch as a mere automaton. Yet sometimes an ominous feeling clouds my consciousness, when the studio is shut down and the lights are off - a little ghoul that traipses around whispering, "the work doesn't love you back."
Silly. And yet.
Scenario: a week of driving, setting up a tent, unloading heavy furniture, and watching thousands of people walk by the little solitary confinement display we'd set up (in artist speak, a 10' x 10' canvas booth). Compliments weren't scarce. I've learned to distrust compliments without intention or action.
People walked by, eating ice cream or drinking vodka-lemonades, complimenting the "craftsmanship" (I was but a teenager still learning the trade, and 99% of those compliments were directed at my father). Sunday evening rolled around and we had sucked down a big fat ZERO.
Yup. No sales. I was young and expected to see the family business succeed. Cynicism is a treacherous way to be, I don't wish it on anyone. But try not succumbing to that after zeroing at a handful of shows. In a row. It might be similar to bombing as a comedian or forgetting lines as an actor.
An antidote for cynicism can be found in an automotive racing principle. Look beyond the next turn. Look beyond this opponent. Look beyond this race. Look beyond the next season. Look beyond your next team. Look beyond the next sport. The key is repetition. Iteration. Sunk cost fallacy can quickly become an Achilles' heel.
So far, the path I've taken is very peculiar, not so logical, and frankly not something I'd brag about. But I hope to share the struggles as well as the successes.
The spirit of improvement, however futile, is a virtue. You can quote me on that. I spent the weekend getting a jump on an order of cutting boards as my father repaired some lighting in the shop and installed a digital gauge that accurately measures cut length on a digital readout for the metal shear. I give him a lot of credit for constantly improving his environment. It is one of the hallmarks of a competent role model and a competent human being.
I'll leave you with a few images of small crafts I completed this week that I think worked out pretty well, despite overanalyzing limbic responses and feeling judged by the work itself.