Sunday, November 20, 2011

Flights of Fancy



"I didn't know you are an artist," he said. "Got anything to show me?"

"Not yet," I responded. "My calling cards are stacked away in an Alberta basement."

And so the plan was born.

We have high hopes. We trust. We intend to succeed. We take risks. We invest in an uncertain future and brave the odds and fake it 'til we make it. We are driven by our want, by our idea, our concept, our ego's need to have its ends met. And in our very fancifulness we do indeed achieve yet more. Past success teaches us as much. But to what extent are we identified by that which we do, versus that which we are? And must 'versus' be the operative word, or can it be changed to a sense of 'conjoined' in the doing and the being? I am what I am?

As I write on this 17th of November I am at the Victoria airport, awaiting the flight. Snow is in the forecast and it's already snowing in Calgary. And within the roughly 1300 kilometres between here and there is a winter-bound road awaiting our return. My friend will pick me up at the airport later this afternoon and by 6:00 p.m. we shall have loaded my paintings in his vehicle and head back over the Rocky Mountains on the long road to Victoria. Somewhere tonight we'll get a motel. Sometime tomorrow we'll arrive back at the seaside. The flight booking for the whole journey was made several weeks ago. Once committed, we never did discuss whether or not we should let things depend on the weather.

Without the collection happening now the paintings will stay unseen until the spring, in April or maybe even March. Risking the winter drive would not make it worth it. But the difference between then and now is that the weather was not supposed to close in quite so quickly, nor so severely. Still, we persevere. Even my plane is now 20 minutes late. As I look out through the huge glass panes of the terminal the sky is black, foreboding, but all around me, life goes on. We humans want what we want. Some of us perhaps are ineluctably bound to schedules and expectations, but in the end we make a choice to stay with the commitment or to play it safe.

At issue is the reason I am convinced that fetching my canvases is worth it. It has to do with showmanship. It has to do with impressing others. It has to do with providing others with a product so that they may choose to buy the original, purchase a giclee copy, or commission me to do another work. It has to do with my being identified for what I do, can do, might do, like to do, and want to do. Yes, it is all because of my want.

We are creatures of want. In the smallest of things we manifest our wants. Eventually some of them become needs. Yet at which point can one let go and just be? Does it really matter if I never paint another painting? Does it really matter that another knows that I am an artist, once proven, and yet again to be? Does our fancy really matter, for a thee, or for a me?

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