Building A Legacy
I read a post by Chris Guillebeau some time ago in which he wrote about building a legacy. At the time I was beginning to feel at loose ends about my creative efforts and starting to think they were perhaps valueless in the overall scheme of things. Then I read Chris’s post and I thought wow – not true. My creative efforts taken as a whole over the course of my life are my true legacy and THAT is worth striving, struggling and working hard for – a noble and worthy life goal.
Now, this is by no means my only legacy. I’m fortunate to have a young son and he is another legacy of sorts and of course there are other less obvious legacies – like my small social efforts – leading by example etc. Taken as a whole they comprise my singular contribution to society and future generations. This is exactly what we are ALL doing every day of our lives – slowly inexorably building our own legacies.
For a long time now I’ve struggled with a strong feeling of unworthiness in regard to my creative efforts. I wasn’t formally schooled in art. I have no training in art history. I only ever attended a one year college photography program to gain some specific technical training and a single first year sculpture fine arts university course. So I feel overwhelmingly under qualified to call myself an artist.
But, lately I’ve had a growing sense of entitlement about who I am and what I do – a self-awareness of sorts. Reading Chris’s post about building a legacy only served to snap it all into perspective – to provide a completing sense of purpose to the whole endeavour.
In truth, it’s not like I haven’t put in a huge amount of effort to learn on my own for many years in many varied areas. I have a degree in computer science, I’ve attended countless workshops and seminars, visited many galleries and openings, read a ba-zillion books, blog posts, FAQs, help files – you name it – if it was related to my pursuits or interesting I gobbled it up. I had an extensive and in retrospect fairly intense period of music training from about age 9 to 19 in piano, trombone, voice and theory – which I find surprisingly is still buried deep within me as I take my son to his new music lessons. I have pursued my interest in photography since the age of 10 when I remember asking for a tour of our family portrait photographer’s dark room to see how this mysterious thing called photography worked – that was 37 years ago when my personal exploration of photography began.
Over the past 4 years I’ve spent pretty much all my creative effort analyzing my work, thinking about what I’m doing and why. In a nutshell – trying to figure out how to explain myself.
Why do I make the work I do?
What am I trying to communicate with my work?
What is the thread of my interest?
Where does the source of that thread originate?
For a long time I’ve felt my answers were shallow, trite, ill considered and cliche. But slowly – recently – I feel I’m finally arriving at an honest answer to these questions about who I am and – as I’ve said before the most important question of all – WHY.