Reborn: Conversation With Renata 3

Republished from Aug. 6, 2013

Being reborn is painful. It seems that the process needs follow a certain course from catastrophe to searching and, finally, to the new being. There are probably other stages in the process, between those mentioned (similar to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' five stages of grief), and the final rebirth is itself an ongoing process, ever reaching out until another life altering event sends us searching again.

This is part 3 of the conversation I had with an artist (I'll call her Renata--meaning reborn) that began as a comment/question of hers on Facebook. What on the surface appears to be an attempt by myself to find the true meaning in her words was, in reality, my own personal searching out for what I truly believe. I'll leave it to Renata to say what it was for her.

The overriding theme to our conversation seems to be this: it's difficult to separate one's feelings from what may, or may not, be reality. In other words, because I see a painful event as negative doesn't necessarily mean that it is.

Part 3 of 3

MT Maybe your initial question, which started this conversation, was a plea for help in more ways than one. Maybe it does have more to do with just the gallery thing, maybe it is all of it coming down at once. This can be tough. Make sure you get enough sleep, I’ve found that to be crucial. Health problems can easily cause despair. I’m sorry you had to go through that, and at the same time I’m not--I like the analogy of a tunnel—once you get through it you come out into the light, further along than before.

Who told you that you were imagining the symptoms? Wounds take time to heal; I would think it would take time to recover from an experience such as this. Don’t rush it and it sounds like you are taking the right course of action to get back to health. The fact that you are taking action indicates you are coming out of the despair.

I’ve read and agree that artist’s sometimes tend to let themselves go, physically, and don’t realize how this can affect their art. In your case you weren’t doing that but you were feeling physically bad and that definitely does a number on work, I know it does for me also; how can it not.

Confusion can come from poor health also. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by you were lost in it all but looking at art is a good thing—I know it inspires me. Maybe you mean you were confused as to where to go with your work, as I think you have eluded to. But do not minimize the effects of the health issue on your psyche; I’m sure something like that would exasperate any insecurities already there.

Yes, insecurities. I know them well. They are quite close friends of mine. I actually like them in a way because I am an “over comer”--I thrive on attempting to overcome what others, and myself, might be telling me is not possible. I had a similar experience with a gallery. The first time I walked in I was very impressed with the work and said to myself that I could not compare and get into a gallery like that. Not long afterwards they sought me out to represent me. That was a boost to my confidence. Now I don’t really know why I saw things that way. I mean, was the work hanging at that time really superior to myself, or did my insecurities cause me to see it that way? I truly can’t say now, but I know for sure that I now see my my work is as “good” or better than others there. Maybe this is part of growing. It actually took my aunt telling me I should put my work in a gallery before I even tried to. It was like I needed permission. Funny. We see through our feelings when maybe we should be looking over them. They are like a cloud (back to the bird analogy) where trying to see through is impossible; we have to go over or around them to see reality. I’m not talking about feelings in general, but insecurities specifically. What would an artist be without feelings--a stump I guess.

Your “So I would say that, even with everything we have discussed, and it all hits home, I am an artist and I want to continue to express myself.” This sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I mean, are you saying you are an artist, as if you weren’t sure. Your telling me you were NOT imagining symptoms, as if you weren’t sure, or at least, some one else wasn’t sure. Have you read Anne Truitt’s Daybook. She said that, among other things, financial insecurities prompted her to work. That to call herself an artist was difficult, but she would need to be able to do it to continue to create. You decide Beverly, not me, not your friends, not any gallery (seems we’ve come full circle). Be nice to yourself, love yourself. It seems that everything good starts with love/appreciation of self, of what you are, who you are. This is not vanity but self esteem. But, as one said, successful artists learn to live with their insecurities (or maybe the better word is the “unknown”), and do the work anyway. I guess the insecurities never go away completely. Truitt certainly did the work anyway, and was criticized and her work put down.

Why do we battle with ourselves? You would think we would be nicer to “us” more so than to anyone else. I think I blogged about this. I think it’s because, on the one hand we know the truth but, on the other, we have laid on layer after layer of insecurities reinforced by past experience or someone else's insecurities laid onto us, and the battle is actually a digging out of the mire. We want so much to be free. The irony of it all is that we are, and always have been, free. The Eagles song goes something like, I was in chains and never realized that I always held the key, or Joplin’s “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”. To me this means that once you are truly free, free in your mind, no one can take anything from you. Freedom is a mental state it seems. That’s why Frankl said that the prisoners of the concentration camps that faired best were the ones that held to the idea that no one could change their feelings about themselves, or something like that.

Renata I recognize that I have insecurities, definitely. Of course, these are part and parcel of many things. (I didn't know I was so transparent!) And you might indeed be right that my initial post was a call for help...I thought perhaps 'understanding' but really, where does one draw the line? In any case, it WAS a call to be heard, when looking back in hindsight. I am glad you responded!

So, it was no-one in particular who said I was imagining my symptoms, but rather a frustration of my husband that could not understand why I couldn't just shake it off, pull myself out of it, and get on with things...he didn't understand any more than I did. So when I went to the acupuncturist, he told my husband this was not an imagined series of events and that the situation was quite serious...I was suffering from side-effects of a prescribed medication.

MT, I had a discussion with my husband last night about insecurities and how our belief systems affect us. We had a good chat about it. He is my biggest fan, I have to say. I had come to an insight yesterday; I have a very good friend who is a Zen monk. Last year I had thoughts the gallery was I trouble in the Fall and I was talking to him then about my future possibilities. He said " don't go after a career with your art...why don't you just paint for yourself?" He meant, do not go into galleries, just paint. This did not sit well with me at all. This person is a deeply trusted friend of mine, and I think I became fact, I am certain I did. I thought then, why would I just paint for myself and not put it out there? Of course, I do paint for myself first, and I do like to put it out there for others to enjoy and hopefully purchase. This is, and has been my 'career' for 30 years already!

So yesterday, and with everything we have been discussing, I thought " why should I deny what I have been working at developing, improving, etc., for all these years? I am not going there." There was a physical release within me that left me dizzy and a bit ungrounded for about an hour, but I felt like I had woken up in some way.

So there it is; I have insecurities, yes...but working with them; I have let others' opinions affect me; and I haven't been totally up-to-snuff health wise to deal with it all. So, I think that today feels like a new beginning somehow. I who'll be back down working in my studio door the afternoon again, working on my painting again. After that, I have more I want to do. This is where it all sits right now.

One other thing...Along with the doctor I see, the herbal medicine, I have had to change my diet. When this is all finished, I want to write about the process so that maybe others can see that it IS possible to get to the bottom of the problem and reverse everything, consciously making permanent changes.

Read Part 1Part 2

MT McClanahan

An artist and perpetual thinker, MT McClanahan finds inspiration through connecting ideas across a broad range of topics. He especially enjoys philosophy and how art and life interconnect. He is the founder of TPT and his paintings can be seen at

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