Justin Kane Elder
Letting go is the hardest part.
The creative journey is a path that never straightens. It just curves and curves, twisting its way unseemingly aware of any destination, always leading to another reward. It has taken decades of focused and unconscious education to understand this concept. Seeing the winding path of creativity is the first step. The second step is the hardest, and it involves letting go. Most creatives, myself included, spend years crafting our voice, a process that involves in-depth personal exploration and an intense understanding of the creative field surrounding our practice. A by-product of this process can lead us to become lost in our voice, where one is rutted in the act of repetition. I, too, have fallen prey to this cycle, and the only way through this rut is to understand the first step, the winding path.
As we walk along this river, it twists and turns, masking what lies ahead, while continually surrounding us with the memories of the trail we left behind. Yet, all the while knowing this will lead us somewhere. The moment I let go of control and truly trusted, leaving the worry of how and when behind, and simply just followed the plan of acceptance. My course-corrected, everything began to fall into place, and instinct became true north. This instinct gave me the confidence to know that where I was going is where I needed to go because I went there with a simple intention. The aim is to reach my highest potential and share that knowledge with others so that they may find the same results.
I firmly believe that all creative disciplines speak to a deeper truth about our universal humanity. From the shining vernier of the popular surface, music, art, design, and countless others appear to be superficial and inconsequential, something to be used by advertisers or passed off as content. This is a great falsehood and an overwhelming misconception that belittles the real power of our creative force. We are taught to trivialize and segregate creativity, believing it to be beyond our grasp, something exclusive only for the talented and lucky few who have been gifted access to these abilities. The truth is, we are all equal in this ability. Every one of us can use this force to reshape our lives into complete harmony. You just have to follow your heart. Now more than ever, we can see countless examples of so many people breaking out on their own to explore their dreams, and that act then spurs others to do the same. Quiet are the footsteps of evolution.
Each of us has this potential within us. I can not stress this enough, and honestly, I am no different than you or anyone else reading this. I’m just a small-town country boy who learned early, never to let go of that childlike wonder that always stumbled around searching for the next accidental breakthrough. This wonder has led me to many lessons, each one reinforcing the belief that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. That's it, simple and easy, just believe, and you will achieve. I urge you to do two things to test this idea. First, find your creative spark; it can be anything, knitting, welding, writing, gardening. It doesn't matter. That's the beauty of creativity. It finds its way anywhere and waits to be discovered by those who search for it. The important part is knowing your passion. A difficult task but also very achievable if you know what to look for. Find the thing that fills you with positivity and sparks the desire to create more of what makes you passionate. Then you’re on the right track.
Step two is letting go, and letting go is the hardest part. Don’t worry. We will catch you, those who have fallen before, who now know falling is an act that leads to finding. We stand waiting with open arms. It will be just fine, and everything does work out. I remember the same uncertainty years ago, as I chose to walk away from the 9-5 world, barely anything in the bank, zero connections to the art world, unemployed, and 100% motivated to follow my dreams, even if it meant complete failure. Letting go is not easy, and it requires 100% commitment. You will have to focus entirely on it, but in doing so, you will find the reward of co-creation. This is the secret, accepting that you do not control everything and conscientiously choosing to “go with the flow.” Once you begin to create with the flow and know, you are going where you need to. You start to take the bumps and the jumps equally. Both become anchor points that set the cycle in motion. The failure informs the success, and each success builds upon the strength of your conviction to continue, and soon the conviction quiets the sting of disappointment, leaving the course forward filled with greater success.
Once you’ve started this process, the world around you begins to change rapidly, and you quickly realize that you are the catalyst of this change, which strengthens the idea that you can make a difference in the world, and if you choose to, you will make the world a better place. Below are some examples of how this process has affected me and the direction my work is going. Now I use other's inspirational stories as motivation to channel their being back into the portrait I create of them, so their stories ripple out through time and continue to inspire future generations.
So find your passion point, you have to do it, others might point the way, but ultimately it is your decision. The media doesn’t know, popular opinion doesn’t know, nobody knows. “They” don’t know, and who are “they” anyway? Only you know you. That is why you are the only real source for this answer. Trust yourself and your feelings because the answer comes from both our minds and our hearts. Let go and accept that with kindness, passion, and perseverance, we become the provenance of our potential.
We gain control when we learn to let go, and there is true freedom in following this truth.