Who am I? I have been confronted with this question a lot as of late. I often contemplate it after facing criticism. This goes for the things I want to hear and the things I don't. Third party perspective means a lot to me as long as I let it past my EGO. That part of me that feels hurt, or flattered. Defensive or elated. My feelings are just that...feelings. Not a fact or even a definition of who I am. They change with the weather and muddy my thinking. But what am I underneath it all? The RAW and unedited "ME" who has been so confused by layers and layers of ideas absorbed by the realities I've sensed from birth? Has it really been so hard to stand firm on any ONE or MANY things? Am I wishy-washy and weak minded because I see 17 sides to every story? Am I a chameleon to get what I want by pleasing others? Am I open-minded or truly closed and set in my ways. Probably both.
My favorite book (Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse) is about a man who thinks of himself as a "half wolf/half man." He describes his life as constant contradiction between his carnal nature and one of order and obedience. He later finds that he is not only two split beings, but he is many beings and selves. And those selves have selves. Some selves co-exist, others are at odds. I have found some peace in this and some answers for my own selves.
I always want to have the answers. I want to know it all and be everything to everyone ALL the time. However, my carnal nature simply doesn't care what you think. I'm in it for myself. My little bun-headed, librarian self has another agenda. She says I should find a happy medium...but the body builder lady self thinks as long as I look good all will be well. But then that spiritual lady...the heavy one with a loud voice and tender manner, says I should seek God's will. And then there's the self that has horns and a pitch fork. The pseudo-bad ass that loves death metal and animal bones. I have a Mommy self that would give anything to hold her son right now, and the little girl that just wants to be held. There's a wolf self that doesn't care about any of this as long as she gets a cheese burger and a donut soon. Then there's that pain in the butt self that is self destructive and wants to party. That self is constantly bickering with the spirit in me that stands firm on what I can and cannot do. What I cannot do is based on patterns of past behaviors. It is physical proof that cannot be disputed. Partying (the use of mind altering substances and beverages) is OUT. On that, ALL the selves stand firm...cept the party self. He is now sulking and trying to get me to do a whip-it.
From one human being to another I feel my connection to others flows strongest through creativity and similarities. But as I look back, my most valuable relationships have been with people I have felt the least comfortable. The ones that were my bosses, teachers and mentors. They made me see beyond myself and I really didn't like them for that. I hated being made to be a team player because I wanted to do it all by myself...except when things went badly. Then it was the team's fault. I respected these people though, and the relationship grew if my selves allowed it. The true gifts came from that discomfort. I am now beginning to see my many selves as part of a much larger self and I am not the center of it. I am a part of a whole and so are you. One is no better or worse than the other.
I was somehow going to make these photos match this blog entry but like my selves, they are not quite in agreement. With the exception that I am very inspired by this dark metal band, Behemoth. I was so honored to be allowed to photograph them last week. They are extreme in their right to express themselves as artists. They provoke thought and emotion deep inside me. Though I do not always agree, or even understand all they represent, I am certain of this...I stand firm in self expression. I crave to share my selves and communicate all I see, hear and feel through art because it doesn't have to make sense. Its a spiritual expression of what simply IS. My passion is parallel and all my selves are in harmony. I AM an artist.