It’s not as bad as you think. I’ve mentioned that I’m reading The Artist’s Way. After The Morning Pages, the author encourages folks to start setting Artist Dates. The date is dedicated time for you, and you alone, to engage in an activity that nurtures your imagination. Julie Cameron, the author, recommends you have one weekly.
So while I was in Los Angeles last week, preparing for my relocation, I took in the beach and the mountains for my Artist Date. As many times as I’ve read the book, this was my first time trying it.
After hanging out at the Santa Monica Pier, (where they wouldn’t let me ride the Ferris Wheel by myself. ugh!) I drove through the Pacific Palisades. My eye caught a sign for the Topanga State Park. It turns out my inner artist is an explorer.
Immediately, was compelled to find this park. Through the canyons on an instant incline, I drove mile after mile. The signs were growing fewer and farther apart. I became worried. I was driving without a map on a strange road.
I turned down the radio. Opened the windows. 55 degrees started to feel warm. An uneasiness filled my chest. I leaned into the steering wheel. I wasn’t sure if the feeling prancing around inside me was the mascot for embarrassment or fear. That’s when the worst happened. Ding! The gas light was on.
How much gas did I have left? Walking for transportation in Brooklyn the last nine years, I had no freaking clue. I pulled out my Garmin navigation and looked for the nearest gas station. 2.5 miles. How far is that?! I sped back down the Canyon. Then I thought, “Speeding will burn more gas.” Ahhh! Clearly I was clueless and officially scared. Finally, I saw a Chevron in the distance. I thanked God as I pulled into the station, as I pulled out the pump and as I swiped my card.
After avoiding a silly and, perhaps, dangerous mistake I resumed my search. The uneasiness returned, though in a smaller dose. Maybe it needed more than 10 minutes to fade away, I thought. But it never went away. With a half-tank of gas, I just got used to it. Soon I found the trailhead to the park.
The view invigorated my soul. Still, the journey was the best part of my trip. I learned three very important things. One I already shared, I like to explore. As I inhaled the crisp air I realized the second. Being unprepared is lighter fluid for becoming anxious and fearful. My subconscious mind remembered I was low on gas while my Id ignored it. I thought about getting gas before leaving Santa Monica but didn’t. I was so eager to get on the PCH that I didn’t even look for a gas station even though I knew the tank was low. The good news is that I can subvert anxiety and fear by being as prepared as possible.
The third lesson from my scary artist date in LA, was that I can survive and succeed while experiencing a bit of fear. It was a new experience in a strange town–who wouldn’t be a little uncomfortable? At least now I know that a little fear in my chest isn’t enough to stop me for a mission. It won’t trick me into retreating.
I don’t know what my next artist date will be. (It ended up being on the Brooklyn bridge.) I hope it’s not a scary one. If it is though, I can deal with it. Am I completely fearless now? No. But I am more fearless than the day before. If I can push the limits on the level of fear I can operate under, driving without a map on unknown roads will be a frequent adventure. I am confident this will make me a better writer and producer. I won’t be trapped by comfort or familiarity anymore. I got a taste of the open road and I liked it. Overall, it was a good date.
What could pushing the limits of your fear do for you?