Struggle….yes a word we all are very aware of but want so badly to avoid. Why is it such a struggle to pursue our passions & our dreams?
Besides going against the societal norm, there is something ingrained in most of us to find the path of least resistance. We want to find success with ease and live the good life surrounded by like minded people. Most of us want to avoid any conflict or confrontation and just find our place alongside of everyone else. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with those who find that that way works for them. To those who don’t feel that struggle wrestling within themselves, I tip my hat off to you. It must be lovely to be in your shoes and most days, I envy you. However, the path of least resistance has never quite panned out for me. My journey has been a lonely road with great companions along the way. Unfortunately, they come and go. But, we each have our own journeys to plow through. It’s hard to understand what is in someone else’s soul. And who are we to judge their path, even if it feels like a great loss? We must each contend with what is within, and what it is we each have to bring to this life experience. As for me, there is a constant battle between the creative and the analytical sides of myself. I find the struggle to express such powerful emotions and feelings inside. And, I long to find a beautiful way to share it with others. The struggle is to make the world a better and beautiful place, to touch others with love & kindness, to bring hope to those in the darkness….even if it’s just to myself.
I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from The Count of Monte Cristo:
“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.”
― Alexandre Dumas
Isn’t it truly the storm/ struggle that defines us?
I was recently challenged by a friend to write about my own struggle in finding expression in the arts. In talking to her, I realized that it is unusual for most people to be able to express themselves in one or more different artistic forms. I am in no way a master in any of my crafts, but I find it necessary to create art in whatever form I can get my hands on. This necessity has fueled one of my missions in life to relentlessly create art despite all internal and external circumstances. Struggle is something I have a hate/love relationship with. I am learning to embrace the struggle though. But you may ask, how do I embrace struggle? You embrace that which you hate, to treat it as a close friend, to reject the desire to run away from the pain & fear that pulls at your very soul. Easier said than done, right? Well, it is a process. It requires a different mindset. You start to remember the times when the struggle paid off and something beautiful was created. Aha, this reminds me of a quote from one of my friends when we were traveling in Israel. I was struggling in my experiences, so she kept reminding me, “Rebekah, you just have to push past the prickles!” And of course, she was right. When I pushed through the frustration of language barrier, cultural differences and many expectations, I experienced the beautiful, sweet and dear Israeli people & country. This is just as true in creating art. You have to push past the frustrations you feel, the self rejection, criticism of not being good enough, and the list goes on. When you can push past those thorns though, you can taste something sweet and see the work of your struggle. No one can take that experience away from you. You have now participated in something of the gods… pure creation. You hold onto that feeling and remind yourself that the struggle is worth it, because look at what you have made. It is beautiful. For are we not all little gods, born to create our own masterpieces?
I am a singer/songwriter, yet I find it extremely difficult to find the words to express what I’m feeling. I mean anyone can tell you what they’re feeling, but a true artist (in my humble opinion) is one who expresses depth that goes beyond mere words. One who paints a picture in your head, while combining melodies and harmonies to pierce through the confines of the listener’s battered soul. This is no easy task. Especially when you are very critical of yourself and analyze everything to death. Let me not forget to mention comparing yourself with other amazing singers and songwriters out there already. I mean, sometimes you just want to give up after hearing someone else sing or play so much better than you. Yet these are the struggles of a songwriter, I have to push past all my own criticisms while analyzing them to find truth in their meaning and still express myself. I don’t know if it’s just an artist thing, but trying to find the words to express how you feel about anything is terrifying. Just even conversing with someone else is a challenge most days. There is something about music though that you can say with a melody and find the courage to finally get it out there. For someone who has a hard time expressing herself just talking to other people, imagine how much harder it is to push through the fear of expressing your heart and soul in a song. You feel like you’re naked in front of a crowd with eyes judging every little thing you do. Isn’t it like that nightmare we all have of being buck naked without any clue where we are or where our clothes are? It’s terrifying to sing your heart out in front of others. You had to go through so much just to create that song and now you have to perform it to strangers or even worse, people you know? So you have pushed through and sung your song, but now you’re terrified of people’s reaction to it. You really don’t want their criticism or praise; you just want to be heard and understood. You want others to be able to relate to your struggle, to feel connected with your lyrics and your heart and maybe not feel so alone in this world. No one prepares you for the criticism or the praise or even how to deal with it. I can say it’s worth it though. Because when it comes down to it, I sing and write songs for me and for my soul’s relief. It’s okay that they are mostly sad and depressing songs, because that’s what my soul needs to express. I was talking to my husband about this the other day. I don’t tend to write upbeat, happy songs. I also don’t really like to play them either. I mean I enjoy singing a happy song on the radio or with friends every now and then. The songs I tend to connect with and want to recreate or create are sad, slower, more depressing, contemplative, & soul searching songs. That is the way that my soul expresses itself in music. I pour out my heart with lyrics or melodies that pierce through my own troubled soul. Sometimes I listen to my own recordings just to find peace inside. I used to hate listening to myself sing, but then my sound changed (or maybe I changed?). I wrestled through finding my voice/my sound. The serenity I find in singing now though is unlike any other artistic expression I’ve ever found.