faith & art

arch of titus
Arch of Titus, Rome

“Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch, is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes. But if one believes, then miracles occur.” ~ Henry Miller

What does that quote mean to you? Do you have faith in being an artist, a storyteller? The best people in film, TV, improv and comedy, regardless of their daily task whether behind or in front of the camera, above or below the line, are part of the storytelling tradition. Writers write for many reasons and the best ones keep writing, regardless of its reception. Artists keep going.

Our Level 7 improv teacher at iO West gave us the on-going homework of writing out a list of things we love every day. I like it because it goes a step beyond gratitude (or it can). If you’ve been doing a gratitude journal for awhile and are in the habit, try making lists of things you love. I’ve done these assigned “love lists” using the alphabet, 5 senses, 25 things, 10 things… whatever method strikes me on any given day. It’s the spirit of “Yes, And…” which, as you advance in improv, takes on a spiritual component. Yes to life, yes to moving forward, yes to uncertainty, yes to the next thing. It is the essence of the life of the artist. In a lifestyle filled with uncertainty, rejection, isolation, and so on, it’s focusing on the yes, on the love of creating that can keep you going. Because no matter who you are, at some point, the going always gets hard.

Arc de Triomphe, Paris
Arc de Triomphe, Paris

And yes, I will find my notes on Dorothy Allison’s lecture!

Resurrection is an Art Form

the-fool“…the human capacity for achieving new meaning is linked to our capacity to let life make a fool of us. If we can look into the mirror and recognise the fool, if we can unflinchingly assert that the fool is satisfied, if we can welcome the uninvited guest of ourselves at any moment, even when taken unawares, then there is a possibility that the diamonds are real, the prize genuine, the glitter gold.”                                                                                                   ~ Mark Patrick Hederman

Sometimes life slays you. Rejection after rejection, both personal and professional, betrayals, unexpected deaths, bad news from family or friends… and then there’s all the world’s problems as well. There are times when circumstances, often out of your control, just grind you into the ground. What can you do? The short answer includes prayer, meditation, time with people who love you, being exceedingly kind to yourself, therapy where applicable. And then you keep going.

I live in Los Angeles and needed a change of scenery without time for a vacation. It’s been ages since I went to the mountains – the beach is where I grew up and my usual go-to. A trip to the local mountains seemed to bebigbearlake in order. Life’s been challenging on many levels lately and I needed clarity, fresh vision, refreshment generally, and revelation would be nice as well. I drove up to Big Bear Lake for the day and returned with all of those things without explanation as to how they arrived except that I emptied myself. I took deep breaths of alpine air, opened my arms to the sky and waited for the divine hug.

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool. ~  William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”, Act 5 scene 1

These are the times that break us open into truly being artists. We change through pain. We surrender. We begin to understand that there may be purposes to suffering beyond our comprehension. We take those wounds into our work, transforming them, sometimes transcending them.

I’ve had acting and writing teachers use Samuel Beckett’s last lines of The Unnamable in teaching three act structure:

You must go on.

I can’t go on.

I’ll go on.

Let life make a fool of you and go on.

Chateau Hotel Domaine de la Tortinière

Attention, Patrons of the Arts! I could write a very good novel if you put me up here for a few months! hee


I stayed here years ago and still remember the carpet of flowers in the woods and oh, the food! The concierge at a hotel in Paris recommended it as his favorite vacation spot, blessed man.

Yes, I could write here…