Chris Sutcliff

Artist Man I am
27th May 2009

Losing my Religion.

The Universe is constantly speaking to us. It does this in a surprisingly direct way and its purpose in speaking to us is to help us realise and then actualise our place within it. The problem is that sometimes we’re a bit rubbish at listening to it. It may say “It’s OK to read about Peter and Jordan in trashy magazines, their plight is the struggle of all relationships in the modern age”. Or it may say “Go on, eat some KFC, it’s probably chicken”. Or it may say “The square root of 729 is 27”. And you may think ‘well, that last one wasn’t very helpful’. Then, a week later, you’ll be in a pub quiz and THAT will be the last question, and then you’ll be like ‘if only I’d listened to the Universe, it was trying to help me win a free pint’. Sometimes these messages are spoken to us through devices. Maybe you’ve already experienced this, for example, if you’ve ever been upset at the end of a relationship and the lyrics of a random song on the stereo go “You broke up with your lady / but that’s OK ‘cos maybe / she shouldn’t have been kissing Greg at Steve’s party / well cheer up ‘cos you’ve still got her DVD box set of Prison Break”. And then you’re like ‘Yeah! Screw that bitch! She shouldn’t have been getting it on with Greg’. Or maybe you watch a movie and there’s a detective and he goes “So I was able to deduce that the killer was Simon the Postman, he had befriended old man Smith’s dog and also had a key to the back door, if he hadn’t put all that money in his cash incentive ISA on the same day we’d never have known”. And you think ‘Hey, I’ve been thinking about what to do with MY cash and whether or not to kill the old guy with the dog, now I know what to do about all of that’. Sometimes the Universe just says “I’m raining today, go visit your Grandma.”

One of my best friends is Dominic; whose real name is Hippy Boy because he has long hair. He doesn’t find this half as funny as I do. Hippy Boy plays guitar and so we often talk about creative artistic type stuff. He was recently asked a question in regard to his creativity by the very wise lady that helps him with his head, and last week he asked the same question of me – a question I have been thinking about ever since and is beginning to have a profound effect on me. Like all great questions it is unnervingly simple, can be asked at any time and will probably bug you until your dying day. Think about whatever it is you love to do, in my case the painting and in Hippy Boy’s case the guitar, and ask yourself how often you really WORK at it? If you’re anything like me your immediate response is to ridicule such an idiotic question because you WORK at such things all the time – how do you not WORK at something that you are working on? However, you should note the difference between merely doing something and WORKING at it, and then ask yourself the question again.

I have come to understand that I DO a lot of painting, but I do not WORK at it. This is a disarming realisation, because now I have to re-evaluate how I do what I do and re-engage with it in a different way if I am to experience any success through it at all. I believe I have stayed at a comfortable level of application, probably for years, for fear that if I WORK at it, I might actually become GOOD at it and will therefore have to realise my dreams instead of just dreaming them. It’s terrifying. I believe that the wise old lady needed that question at some point in her life and the Universe asked it of her, then she saw Hippy Boy needed it and she asked it of him, he asked it of me and now I am asking it of you. Like a cosmic pass-the-parcel.

It doesn’t end there though, because when the Universe wants you to pay attention it can really shout. Hippy Boy leant me a book, Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Pilgrimage’. If you’ve ever read any of his books then you already know where I’m at with this. Apart from the fact that every line of every page is imbued with spiritual advice, one of the threads of this story is that enthusiasm is the joy of the soul, and without it you become bitter and dead inside. So the next question is – How enthusiastic are you feeling right now? Nothing dispels my enthusiasm quicker than having to spend precious hours working in an office instead of nourishing my creativity just so that I have enough money to pay bills and then not have a lot left. This month, my entire wage had gone on bills and bank charges in THREE days. What am I going to eat for the next 27 days? Probably just my words. I sat in the office yesterday and I was thinking about all this. I began to lose focus on what I was doing. I became irritable and vague, I had a terrible urge to flee and by not doing so I was nauseous and agitated. I have had some pretty crap days at work before now but I have never experienced anything quite like that. I became emotional and felt like I couldn’t remember what I was doing. I was frustrated and worried and spun out by the rapidity of the change. My heart raced. I was so fearful in fact that it registered plainly on my face and people starting asking me what was wrong and I had to pretend I was OK. The attack lasted nearly two hours. I think I was having my first taste of what for most people becomes stress related illness. It really got to me and I was still deeply disconcerted about it long after it had subsided. I honestly thought I was better at keeping my head in check than that, but it would appear I’m as susceptible to stress as anyone is.

I’ve one last piece of advice to bring this to a coherent whole, because good lessons always come in three’s. This one is from Hippy Boy’s Mum (a very wise family indeed), and again it is simple and always applicable – ‘The wheels won’t fall off’. The upshot of all of this is that I’ve been so wrapped up in trying to make it as an artist that I’ve stopped enjoying the journey, becoming deeply embittered by anything that I perceive to be distracting me from that goal, like my job which is totally necessary because it pays my bills and allows me to live. This frustration has robbed me of my enthusiasm which in turn has had me churning out Art that I have not WORKED at and has wounded the only soul I will ever have. It has been this way for so long that by the time something has started to go right, like this website, I have slipped so far from the track that it took an intergalactic telephone call and a panic attack at work to wake me up. As close as it came though, the wheels didn’t fall off. Now I have to do something about it. This Blog entry is for all those people who have worked so hard for something for so long that it has become difficult to remember what it was all for. You WILL get there. Never, ever, EVER quit. Just pay attention when you’re being spoken to, it might be the Universe and you don’t want to piss it off.

by Chris
Posted in Words

2 Responses to
“Losing my Religion.”

  1. Dude says:

    Dude……keep on keepin on. It will all be worth it in the end. Now Ireally appreciate the overtime!!!!

  2. This has come at a good time for me. Sometimes I convince myself that I can’t work at what I do without some sort of goal, but it was the random playing around that got me trying new stuff and learning what I know today.

    Another good read 🙂

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