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Sympathy Pains

Most every woman who has ever been pregnant understands the concept of sympathy pains whether from a husband or sometimes a family member. My mom jokes that her nephew (my second eldest cousin) experienced sympathy pains for Mom while she was pregnant with me. Sometimes if we or a loved one is in pain, all we want to do is have the pain taken away, but it isn't always the case. Often, we simply require a warm cup of tea to settle ourselves, and proceed.


It's interesting to me, how much the arts depend upon sympathy pains - those times that bring artists together to support one another. The New Testament calls it bearing one another's burdens, and some churches do this well; some not so well when considering artists among them.

Within the arts community, being a solitary artist is impossible so far as how long it can be sustained. By limiting our interactions from people and places, we limit impute into our creativity as well as the sharpening from others.

In college, one of my professors likened writers to a bee or a spider: the bee travels out to find nourishment whereas the spider spins from within itself. While we need the solitude to create, therefore, we artists often seem to be like a spider - creating from nowhere - we are mostly bees traveling out to find information, collect tidbits, and process it into something beautiful and
nutritious. Yet, by traveling out around to find inspiration, we often expose ourselves to pain.
 
Added to the exposure to pain, artists can be, by nature, less resilient to other's pain. Sometimes this expresses itself in a strong sense of justice, sometimes it comes across as a person who cannot take criticism. For some artists, a hard barrier is placed around their hearts, effectively creating a protective layer.

The question becomes for many artists, how do we take our sympathy pains and turn them into something productive?

For some of us, it is easy: we live in a community where we can plug-in immediately be it in a rescue home, church, or community outreach location. For others, it becomes difficult because we either live in a community where few locations exist. Short of moving, there are ways that we can utilize the pain for good.

Five Ways to Change
  1. Join a group in your particular field. Since many people have some online connection, even if we have no immediate physical location, we can connect online. For many places, we can connect online to find fellow artists in our local areas.
  2. Check out the art societies. In my small town, I have no artist society, but in the neighboring larger town (actually, a small city), I do. In the next two larger cities (Buffalo and Rochester) there are more societies, including ones for specific crafts such as weaving. If you live a good distance away from a group, sometimes they offer a discounted rate for distance travel.
  3. Start your own group. If you cannot find a group in your area or one that focuses on what you need, start your own. Advertise, blog and proceed. Sometimes it seems as no one wants to help, but often they simply need to learn about it. If you have friends who are artists, begin there.
  4. Find another group. Sometimes, it isn't an arts group that we need, but a group more focused on a particular location or subject. Most communities will have some sort of religious organization or other needs-based organizations where artists can utilize their gifts.
  5. Mentor. It can be a hard path, but sometimes, the ability to help a new artist grow (not necessarily younger artist) can be what starts a change. In this case, instead of having others come alongside you, by helping others miss the mistakes you had, you can support the arts.
It isn't easy finding someone to come along side the arts, but often times finding one other artist to help support you, and one you support, can be what you need to not only help yourselves, but help your community and eventually others.



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