this culture told me that only singers sing, only writers write, only dancers dance. that one must be a builder to build, a teacher to teach. that i may be an audience to musicians, actors, but only the select few may take up the camera, the stage, the brush in earnest.
even then, how dare they? they must always be proving some god-given talent, some specialist exceptionalism.
but i just loved to make things. with words, images, sound, with materials of all descriptions. i had the good fortune to be the child of an artist, so it seemed to me that all people are artists and so was i, and avoided the heartache of requiring permission.
my elders made music as a matter of course, at holidays, at any task, while walking in the street arm-in-arm, but the conservatory trained me not to play. in a band, my mates were all fellows immersed in the culture of the lone genius-in-making practicing over and over, if ever displaying a cock-sure swagger so that repeated failures look invulnerable. i didn’t know how they did it, being a girl, trained to be good. i felt the pressure to already know how in advance of trying, which kills so much creativity. only recently, singing to kids, scoring my films, did i allow myself to really play, to let songs emerge as they will.
perhaps generalism flowed from the way that my parents re-invented the house around us as we grew up, raising it right off the ground, though they weren’t architects nor carpenters nor plumbers nor electricians nor interior designers. likewise at art school i practiced all the skills i could get my hands on. in deschooling, i have not ceased.
to bring skills home is the pattern. home education naturally followed home birth. unschooling unearthed the whole world. so we learn by living. to get around by bike, to split the wood that warms us, to grow our food and preserve it, all these are roles and skills of immersion, not expert but amateur.
just today, i play cider-maker and vinager-maker. i’m no expert, but i know enough to get by. enough to take the practices that sustain a good life into my own hands.
my new film season follows this way of being. get on the ‘postcards’ list (sign up below) to hear when they’re out.