“The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud.”
– Buddhist Proverb
There are days, as a working artist, when you end up feeling the weight of your chosen life baring down on your shoulders. In order to survive, you have to sell, in order to sell, you have to provide something the world wants, and sometimes what the world wants, and what you want, and love, to create do not mesh.
There are days when your work is passed over, leaving you to wonder what you are doing wrong. While I have been very lucky to build a successful art business, I am not immune to this feeling; it creeps in on occasion, and always will. When I left the corporate world behind, I made the decision that, as an artist, I would never pander, I would never photograph anything that didn’t move me, that I didn’t love. Am I doing the right thing? Admittedly, the dark days leave me questioning that and, in my opinion, the answer to that question is always a resounding, “YES!”
Creating what you love, in my case, photographing what I love, what moves me, lends a genuine emotion to the work, one that can be both seen and felt. Allowing the down times to question that motivation, to push you in a direction you wouldn’t otherwise go, endangers that.
“Be like the lotus: trust in the light; grow through the dirt; believe in new beginnings.”
I have come to accept that the dark days, while difficult, are there for a reason. The lotus flower blooms from muck and mud and the harder it has to work to bloom, the more beautiful the flower. As artists, as humans, we are no different. If all we ever experienced was sun and light, with no contrast, if it was always easy, we would never be pushed to grow, to reevaluate, and perhaps shift direction.
So embrace the dark days, just as you relish in the bright ones, and use that darkness to push yourself ever farther towards greatness, to be a better artist today than you were yesterday. Does it make the dark days any less difficult? No. It does, however make them worth something.
“If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.”
– Masaru Emoto, Secret Life of Water