Adrift

Is it abnormal for one’s life trajectory to stall? I hope not. Because I’m feeling stymied, and I don’t know why. “Unsourced” feelings and emotions can be very worrisome. I wake up in the morning, slowly open my eyes, start to take a nice long stretch under the covers, and then, out of nowhere, a nasty bolt of anxiety shoots through me. Why? Nothing bad has happened. I’m in good health. I love my work. But the anxiety bolt inserts unwelcome, weighty thoughts into my consciousness. They zigzag around my head, saying “Hey, Claudia, your life is the same as it was a year ago. And it will be the same a year from now if you remain on this course”. Ick. That’s not good, is it?

I asked a dear friend recently how he envisioned himself ten years in the future. Without missing a beat, he confidently answered that he never thinks in those terms. Because it is unrealistic, pointless, and, in some respects, crippling. He’s right. I need a tutorial in that brand of thinking, because what I have instead is “rut-phobia”. I’ve always been this way. So it’s possible that there’s nothing wrong at all with my life’s trajectory, only my perception of it.

But I am smart enough (and old enough!) to know that our own thoughts can be our worst enemies, that torment comes from within, and that discontent is often a detrimental, even paralyzing, emotion. But striving is fine, right? And “change is good”, so they say. I can’t figure it out. I guess, like everyone else, I just want to be happy. If only it weren’t so complicated . . . . or is it?

This is In Werner’s Rowing Boat, 1917, by Swedish painter Anders Zorn:

zorn-werner's-rowing-boat

15 thoughts on “Adrift

  1. Jeff says:

    While you shouldn’t be scared of change, there’s also a certain logic undeniable truth in the old saw “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. If you’re happy with your life, what value is a goal that would change it? A goal that would make you happier is fine, but having a goal because you feel you need a goal sounds like a recipe for disaster. If you don’t have a goal at this point in your life, it could just be an indication that you don’t need one right now, or that you aren’t ready for another one yet. If, at some point, you need a new goal or aspiration to continue being happy, I’m pretty sure it will be obvious to you.

    I know a lot of people are goal-oriented, and for some things you need to be. If you want to be a Doctor, for example, it’s a long road, and you’re probably not going to ever get there without being goal-oriented. But those cases are the minority. Not everybody has to be goal-oriented all the time, and I think many people would be a good site happier if they were less focused on them. People who think about “goals” are the types of people who think happiness is in the destination, not in the journey.

    Goals are more likely to take you on well-traveled paths. For those of us who prefer the “road less-traveled”, goals can be a detriment because they can take our focus away from the road and the journey and can cause us to blindly go down the well-traveled road without even realizing it.

    • artmodel says:

      Jeff,

      Thanks for that. For most of my adult life, I’ve never been a very goal-oriented person. Nor have I ever had a competitive or ambitious streak. I have, however, been a “road less traveled” person, and one who believes that the reward is in the journey, not the destination. I’m with you all the way on those points.

      This feeling that I posted about has only entered my life in the past year or so. And because it’s never been part of my thinking up until now, I’m not used to it, and don’t know how to handle it.

      Like you said, inventing a new goal for a goal’s sake isn’t a good idea. But on the other hand, if restlessness is dwelling inside you, disquieting your daily life, then there must be a reason for it. Dont you think?

      I really appreciate your comments. Thanks again.

      Claudia

      • Jeff says:

        A disquiet could be an indication of many things. Not being any further inside your head than your blog allows, I can’t guess at what it might be. I wouldn’t worry about it, it’s probably an idea bubbling below the surface, and once its fully formed, you’ll become aware of it. In the meantime, don’t let it disturb your happiness. Enjoy what you’re doing, continue to do it well, and if it’s truly a need rather than a bit of temporary depression, then it’ll come to you and you’ll have at least an idea of what you need to do.

        When you get to that point, maybe one of us can be more helpful. 🙂

  2. Sigh. The greatest problem of advancing age isn’t the aches and pains, it isn’t the loss of the vigor necessary to climb mountains (parenthetical aside; My best friend’s two sons just left and went down to Mt. McKinley to spend a month playing around on it and making two assents.), -it’s the simple fact that one can no longer resist giving avuncular advice!

    So! Of course it’s not abnormal to feel one’s stalled, etc., nor to be disturbed by such feelings.

    There, that was the comforting assurance that all’s OK! 🙂

    Now the observation and opinion; Personally I think one needs the ups and down, the emotional highs and lows to create the yardstick necessary to enjoy and appreciate one’s life. Wanna just be happy? Hey you need to bad times to truly appreciate the good times. Without the yardstick life’s not steak, Thai food, sashimi, -it’s all just pablum, even if it’s good pablum!

    OK, I know it didn’t really help but, as I said giving such advise is impossible to resist when one reaches a certain age…

    On the other hand; you mentioned modeling’s slow this time of year, when not just take a holiday for a week or so, get out of Dodge and look back on your life from a distance?

    Mentioning sashimi reminded me that there’s this really really great art museum, the Ohara Museum of Art, in Kurashiki, Japan (about half way between Osaka and Hiroshima). You ought to hop over there and check it out! and… life if the Big Apple looks a lot different with a big world between you and it.

    Oh yea, ‘nother, minor, problem with advance age is that no matter how fluxed up one’s own life was/is/isn’t/will be, one is always able to come up with “good” advice for others. -GRIN_

    Hang in there…

    • artmodel says:

      Jim,

      That was comforting assurance, thank you! And all that “advanced age” stuff was referring to you not me, right? 😆 Ah, just kidding. I’m not 21 and believe me, I know it.

      Totally agreed about the ups and downs. Or if I may use an art metaphor, since this is an art blog, “lights and darks”. I think those words describe it well.

      I’m not really in a position to “hop over” to Japan, unfortunately. But the general idea of getting out of town and experiencing a change of atmosphere is a good one indeed.

      Thank you so much for commenting.

      Claudia

  3. fredh1 says:

    That is a beautiful painting, one I’d never seen. I keep discovering new things thanks to you.

    I feel the same “rutphobia” often, but if you stay open to good changes they will come at the right time, and if you don’t stay open things will happen to break you open, so trust life.

    Fred

    • artmodel says:

      Fred,

      Glad you like the painting. It is a beauty. I liked it because it illustrates perfectly the way I feel these days. It was the best image for this blog post.

      I hope you’re right about changes coming at the right time. I have always been open to them. But until it “arrives”, my mood is uneasy. It bothers me.

      Thanks for commenting, friend 🙂

      Claudia

  4. Sarah says:

    Hey there — this is pretty random, but I’ve just stumbled upon your blog and don’t know where else to post this. I suppose it’s good timing; maybe a random comment can cheer you up. Anyway, I found your blog while looking for figure drawings to copy for a class sketchbook. I’m taking a figure drawing class for the first time this quarter (way across the country, in Portland) and love it. I really enjoyed skimming your posts — I was wondering what it was like from the model’s perspective. Always great to see things from the other side. Anyway, just wanted to say that you models are so brave to get up there and pose in front of everyone. To be comfortable with your body, and to inspire others — kudos! (Not to mention, how you guys hold those poses is beyond me). If you don’t mind me asking, how did you get into modeling? Was it awkward, to begin with? As an artist, I found figure drawing a bit awkward initially, but I was surprised by how quickly that went away. Wish nudity wasn’t such a big deal; the body is beautiful. Anyway, great blog, keep up the good work — and thank you for being a model :]

    • Waverly says:

      Hi Sarah and Claudia,

      I know this is odd, but if you would like another art models blog check out mine:

      http://wordsofdoves.blogspot.com/

      Take care, Sarah.

      Claudia, I actually felt the same way. I realized today that my life might be the same this year as it will be next year. It kinda scares me, but then I look forward to reading a book this afternoon. Simple joys make life worth living.

      -Wavie

      • artmodel says:

        Waverly,

        Great to hear from you. I used to be great at the appreciating “simple joys” thing, like you said. But I seem to have lost it. Hopefully it’s just temporary.

        It’s not odd for you to insert your blog link here. You are also in my blogroll just in case you didn’t know.

        Thanks for commenting.

        Claudia

    • artmodel says:

      Sarah,

      Thank you, and welcome! Glad to have you aboard. Looks like you found Museworthy at the right time since you’ve just started taking life drawing classes. I’m sorry, though, that you find me in a rather glum and moody state. I’m not always like this, I assure you! But yes, your comment does cheer me up 🙂

      When I started modeling it wasn’t awkward. For most professional models, it’s easy and comfortable from the outset. I have yet to meet an art model who needed time to get used to it. It’s the kind of thing you can either do or not do, and you discover which one within a minute of your first pose.

      You mentioned that you were searching online for figure drawings. Hands down, the best place to look for life drawing books is Tom’s figure drawings site:
      http://figuredrawings.com/

      Thanks again, Sarah. Do stop by again and join in the conversation!

      Claudia

  5. babahr says:

    I often think about this quote from, er, Robert Hunter:

    “I can tell the future/Look what’s in your hand.”

    It seems true. Do you have a drawing pencil in your hand most of the time? What does that suggest? Do you have a remote control? A beer bottle? Your lover’s hand? A Blackberry?

    Where you spend your time now is a clue to where you will be in five years. It may not be a direct correlation, but the influence of your present focus will undoubtedly play a large role, even if it is just allowing you fallow time right now so you can be fully ready for the next season of plowing.

    Works every time. Thank you, Mr. Hunter.

    • artmodel says:

      Bob,

      That’s fascinating. You have provoked serious thought in me with that quote from Robert Hunter. Gosh, I’m really pondering that idea! I’m almost afraid to answer it, not just here in comments, but privately to myself.

      I am happy to say that neither a beer bottle nor a remote control occupies my hand very often. What a relief! But my laptop keyboard does, big time. Hmm?

      When I’m modeling, my hands are empty of objects, but still active with expression. That’s another “Hmm?” I have much to think about.

      Thank you so much, Bob. I appreciate your thoughtful comment.

      Claudia

  6. Rog says:

    Claudia,

    Rut-phobia … you talk about it. Although being a little older I have not felt it the same as you. But when I was young, I first moved from Wisconsin to Idaho, I lived in Pocatello. It was surrounded on three sides by mountains. I would go exploring in my old Subaru [2 wheel drive] on the dirt roads in the mountains. I, being a neophyte to dirt roads in the parched mountains thought it would be cool to see how far I could go. I got on top of a ridge and could see to the other side and decided I wanted to go there. 100 yards later my small thin tires, fell into a caverness rut. This is before the age of cell phones [not that there would be a signal anyway there]; so I hiked 3 miles down the mountain to the nearest house to call a tow truck.

    After that, I did not always go on the road less traveled. I avoided the ruts, for awhile anyway. But I still explore, since it is my nature. Maybe you just need to explore something new. Walk down a road you never have before. I know this about exploring, it enlivens the mind.

    Enjoy…. rog

    • artmodel says:

      Rog,

      Thanks for sharing that story. One can take a lot from it. I do have a little “explorer” in me. When I reflect on my life, I see that I’ve often taken the road less traveled, usually with pretty good results. I am, and have been, many things, but a cliche is definitely not one of them!

      Good to hear from you, friend.

      Claudia

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