Most blogs, like brands, seem to be about certainty. 10 Ways to Be a Better _____, 3 Things Every ______ Needs to Know. Even posts that are about uncertainty (like this one) still seem to be certain. I guess it’s how we take things in — we need them to be clear and solid and unwavering in order to invest our energy in trying to understand them.
But oftentimes I am utterly uncertain. This uncertainty can seem like a bad thing, but I have come to believe that most of the time it’s very helpful. And sometimes, I seem to seek it out in an attempt to grow and move forward.
There is a musical called Into the Woods that deals with the feeling of uncertainty. The Woods in the play is a place where anything can happen — confusion, getting lost, getting found, making mistakes, making discoveries, being vulnerable. The play’s characters are all from very well known fairy tales and they all for one reason or another are forced to venture into the Woods. They all find it useful, exciting, terrifying, arduous. The outcome is not known, and might not be better than what they already have. But everyone risks it anyhow in search of something they need.
I’ve been venturing into a sort of Woods lately. I’m trying a painting class with a teacher whose style, medium, and approach is very different than mine. I am working on a group art exhibit and applying for a grant to fund the show. I did a mentoring session with an artist who is at the next level in terms of art making, sales, and career. I am in spaces that leave me very uncertain, but also feeling certain that it is the right thing to be doing.
Part of being an artist that I am not sure I ever knew is that you won’t ever really get to be comfortable. You can develop a way of working, a body of work, but if you do start to get too comfortable or too certain of it, you will be internally notified that it is time to venture back into the Woods and find something a little deeper, a little more challenging, a little bit different from what you are currently doing, without completely changing course.
So, I guess you have to come to love the Woods, and, as a friend of mine says, “embrace the uncertainty”. It really can be fun, sustaining, and freeing — once the terror subsides.
From Dar Williams' song Go To The Woods:
"It's the woods! What do you see?
In all the spooky shadows, in the forest of green
Is there a windy path, angry ass woman who will eat you?
Sad-eyed lumberjack, savior who will greet you?
It's a different story for you and for me
Go to the woods and see."