As we drove past a row of birch trees that are still losing their autumn leaves, my daughter asked, " How long does it take a tree to grow?" Without much thought I replied, " It depends on the tree. Some grow quicker. Some are slower. The big trees tend to take longer but the amount of light, water and dirt will also help the tree to grow". I then looked at the trees that had obviously caught her attention and thought they still had a few years to grow. But without guessing, I had no idea how long they would take to grow.
In the life of a tree, time is not something we worry about it. We plant them. We water them and give them fertilizer. We watch them grow but we don't question how quickly they grow. They might take 1 year or 10 years but we watch with wonder as they grow. We might express concern if they start looking unhealthy. We look at the elements that may be contributing like lack of water, light and the quality of soil. We think about putting it into a bigger pot. Rarely, do we question the tree itself.
And yet, we place great importance on time in our creative life. We use it as a marker of success or failure. We use it to compare our self with other artists. We look at their achievements with their business, or workshops or being published in less time than we have. We use it to question our ability. To question who we are as an Artist and our creativity. But why? If we plan to live our whole life as an Artist( just like the tree), why do we measure our journey against time? Why does it matter if we have been enjoying this creative life for one, two or ten years? What does it matter if we are 10, 16, 30 or 46 years old ?
Why don't we look at the equivalent of the soil, the light, the water or putting ourselves in a bigger pot rather than questioning our ability? Why do we focus on the external measurements of growth, like number of clients or attendees at a workshop, rather than the internal ones like commitment to creativity, connection with clients and the heart of a workshop to encourage rather than to teach. The reality is that it is easier to say, "I have 20 clients this month and I am so busy" than to say "I have a handful of lovely clients who work with me because they admire my creativity." Our world is built around numbers and success is often measured in the quickest time. I mean how many posts have you seen claiming: "I was a millionaire by 30. You can too!" or "Get 1000 new likes in a week!" We put great pressure on ourselves to grow, and to do it quickly.
But my friends, what if my daughter asked this question instead, " Mum, how long does it take an Artist to grow? My reply would be the same; "It depends on the Artist. Some grow quicker. Some grow slower. It depends on their courage, their commitment, and their joy of a living a creative life. Maybe, it also depends on the size of the pot they put themselves in".
My name is Cindy Cavanagh, and I live in Sydney, Australia. I am a Lifestyle photographer of home and heart. I love to create and always have. I'm Co-Editor of the Long Way Home Magazine, contributor to Journey to Artist and Wonder of the Oddments. I am a wife and Mum to 5 gorgeous and crazy children. Ironically, I love the quiet.