Struggles. I always liked that word. It’s even my family’s motto: Struggle. There is a very romantic notion surrounding the idea of struggling for something. Poets, playwrights, authors, and artists have used it as a theme. We put worth in the character who struggles. We cheer for the struggling couple trying to figure out how to work in movies. While we can sympathize with the character having a hard time, we want them to overcome it. We believe in the hero/heroine who overcomes adversity to finally find happiness and success.
However, some of us are angry when we have to struggle in our own lives. We forget that in many aspects movies depict truths about life. And life isn’t supposed to be easy, and it will never be fair. We watch in rapt attention as the main character(s) encounter hardship and loss, challenges and tests, and silently nod our heads in affirmation when they overcome it all.
Art for me is about continually learning to see myself and the world in more healthy and constructive ways. It’s about accepting the struggle of living and learning to cope and ultimately to overcome. It’s about rejecting outside validation as the authority on quality of work. Learning to see ourselves clearly may give us the ability to maintain hope in adversity, and see the big picture that involves long term progress. Who knows, we may even start seeing ourselves as the eventual heroes of our own stories.
In that way, finding your voice as an artist can mean finding how to live with adversity and rejection while maintaining hope in progress and success.
Frederick Douglas describes it well:
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.”