When I met Jung there was another woman in my life. Please understand that this woman did not and still does not know that I exist, but I was fascinated by her, and frankly, I still am. She is a performance and multimedia artist by the name of Laurie Anderson. I have many of her recordings and I read quite a bit about her back when I was a student. I’ve been to two of her concerts, one of which I attended the night before Jung and I first met, and the other, Jung and I went to together a couple years later.
Laurie Anderson is an artist in the full sense of the word. She works in a myriad of media, she is a fantastic story writer and performer, and she sees her life as art as well. Her works always shift my lens in some way, making me see myself, the world, or both in a slightly different way than I did before. I love her work and the way she lives life as art.
This is why I was so excited when I saw that the School of Visual Arts had posted her 2012 Commencement Speaker’s Address on YouTube. I was excited to hear what she had to say, but because I’m suffering from the same Internet-induced attention deficit disorder that many of us struggle with, when I saw that the video clocked in at thirty-seven and a half minutes, I put off watching it.
I should have known better.
Now that I have listened to her address, I am floored by how much her advice to the new graduates mirrored how Jung and I have set out to live. First, the way in which we decided to take matters into our own hands and leap off the cliff when we began this SPF 365 Experiment is echoed by Laurie Anderson’s words:
“No one will ever ask you to do the thing you really want to do… do not wait for this to happen. It will never happen. Things will happen to you, but this will never happen. So just think of what you would like to do—what you dream of doing—and just start doing it.”
What Jung and I dream of is putting our energy into work which feeds both our souls and our family. From Day 1, however, our instinct directed us towards making our first priority focusing on work which feeds our souls and trusting that the feeding of our family will follow. Laurie Anderson had the same fear as a young artist, about how to pay the rent, but she took the advice of a wise friend, focused on her art first, and it turned out to be the best advice she got. In turn, her advice from her experience is as follows:
”If your priority is paying the rent, then you’ll probably pay the rent but you might not get around to making art. But if your priority is to do your work then that’s where your very, very best energy will go. And paying the rent will… just kind of automatically happen. I know this sounds kind of ridiculous but please believe me on this. You just have to take this one completely on faith.”
I believe her. Why? Because her own life is living proof that it is possible to live a life focused on your art and your works first.
Watch her commencement address yourself and see if Laurie Anderson doesn’t inspire you to prioritize your art, whatever it may be.