The value of individual experience.
Everyone has a story to tell.
Focusing on your individual experience may seem somewhat self-centered at first blush. Images of social media influences and inspirational quotes on coffee mugs and reclaimed wooden panels may pop into your mind. As an artist, it is crucial to our experience to discover and articulate your individual experience. If you wish to be able to put something positive into the world, it can be helpful to first look inward to understand the value of your experience. Then you can bring that value to others. Every person has a unique perspective and experience in life. Truly understanding what yours is can take time and exploration.
Many times big ideas in life can be represented in the smallest actions. Things that we could miss if we are not paying attention. Or maybe we are not accustomed to looking with intention (more on that later).
Here is a personal anecdote that gave me insight into finding value in unexpected places. It is spring which means our yard is speckled with yellow dandelions. We don't use any weed killers because the flowers are good for the bees. Also, the fear that one of our boys would get it on them while playing has come to mind. The other day I was sitting in the car in the driveway when I observed a male sparrow hopping along through the fresh green grass.
He was focused and intent on his purpose. In his mouth, he held a tuft of yellow. He paused for a moment before plucking more soft yellow flowers off of a nearby dandelion. Then a female sparrow landed gently by his side and inspected his haul. She glanced around at the surrounding yard keeping a watchful eye while the male continued to gather. They hopped together in perfect synchronization. When the male could hold no more, they both flew off together.
What I was struck by while I observed my avian friends was how deeply I could relate to them. In the short time I observed them, I saw a microcosm of my and my wife's relationship. The movements between them, the patience and watchful eyes as they surveyed their surroundings. The way they worked towards a shared goal. It was all so familiar. Whether they observed my presence or not they were able to teach me something. We shared a kinship.
This is true as well for anyone who tells their story. There is always someone who will be able to relate to you. Your story may affect them deeply whether you know it or not. There may be more people than you think who have experienced something similar to you but have not been able to articulate their experience. Sharing your experience can be inspiring.
Finding clarity when discovering your personal experience requires diligent note-taking. It can be as simple as jotting down notes in an app, journaling, or starting a publication. These are good ways to get aspects of your experience down on paper. This allows you to clearly collect and sort through your internal monologue. As you work through your writings you may see a story start to emerge, even if what you are writing seems like random musings there is much to be gleaned from it.
Courage and perspective.
Developing your personal experience is beneficial for yourself as well as others. By exploring your personal story, you can come to realizations and clarity about who you are that you may not have arrived at otherwise. Think of it as a journey of discovery and your true self is the goal. This can take courage, through every step of the journey, but the reward is worth it.
When I was in my senior year of art school, we had a project assigned to us in a Typography class. The assignment was to take a walk around our block, then observe our surroundings and make notes of what we saw. Once we had done our walk and taken our notes we were to turn them into a typographic poster. I was astounded at the results, everyone had fixated on a different element of their surroundings. What stood out as an important element of the environment to some was completely different than what was important to others. Try this exercise for yourself and see what stands out to you. It will do two things for you. Not only will it bring to light what is an important element in the environment that surrounds your life. But it will also change how you think about observing your surroundings. The simple act of looking with intention can lead to you seeing the world from a different perspective.
Everyone has a unique perspective and a story to tell. Though it may take courage to tell it, the world deserves for it to be told. There is always something to be learned from the stories of others. While observing the sparrows, I was able to articulate a simple but profound truth. If you find someone you can trust completely and watch as they gather, collecting all of the dandelion flowers life offers. They will diligently watch as you gather as well. You will have a partner with equal stakes in the relationship, and you will both reap the rewards.
Think about how someone can benefit from the story you have to tell.
Thanks for reading,