Monday, November 17, 2008
A Declaration Of Independence
For the past few months, a lot of things haven't gone well for me. Carefully brokered business deals went bad. Clients affected by the economic downturn pulled out of long-promised commissions. Transport companies damaged works consigned for safe delivery, causing significant delays. A handful of people close to me – people on whom I thought I could rely in the toughest of clinches – let me down. My family refused to help.Everyone goes through bad times. How one deals with them is the knife-edged difference between make or break.I didn't break. Instead, I learned to fight my corner, to persist in finding a way, even when things looked impossibly bleak. I also learned to deal better with relentless pressure and stress – sometimes it's just better to ignore it.On the worst of the worst days, I sat down and sorted through every option. The only one that would surely destroy everything I'd worked for was to lose hope, to give up. As a good friend of mine tried to explain to me, a few years ago, giving up is the one option that makes a good outcome irretrievable. It took a real-life, do-or-die whiff of total defeat for me to understand what he was talking about. It made me determined to fight back.I'm through the worst now and I've had some time to think about what I went through. I realise just how hard I'm prepared to fight to keep making a living from my art. During the good, comfortable and easy times, it's impossible to know. People always make big boasts about what they would – or wouldn't – do if push comes to shove. Now I know for sure that I haven't, after all, become soft or weak because of a few years of material success. I'm still willing to sacrifice whatever's necessary in order to work as an artist on my own terms.The bad times aren't over for me yet. They're not over for a lot of us. At least I can see the end of them. I feel stronger. I'm also better prepared for whatever bad luck or trouble comes my way in the future. I'm braver and more capable than I'd thought. Ironically, I think I've even acquired a taste for the fight.One thing's for sure: I won't ever again make the mistake of thinking so-called friends – or my family – have my back.