When artists talk of risk I tend to roll my eyes. My first thought is to minimize the risk an artist takes against that of a soldier, or a parent, or one of those guys on Deadliest Catch.
I’m learning not to focus on the scale of a risk. Risk keeps us alive and moving forward. Any risk, even the smallest, is the practice of courage. It isn’t the size of the risk taken but the practice of risk that is important.
Risk involves the possibility of loss with the aspiration that there is something better, more powerful, clearer, larger.
Risk involves choice, to choose to put yourself in a spot where you bear the consequences of your decisions. It’s a choice to be more alive, more conscious, more respectful, and most likely more humble.
For me it started with giving up a stable job to pursue art as my career. That was a big one, but I’m realizing that it was just the first one, and maybe even the least significant. Now, that I’ve made the leap I’m seeing risk takers everywhere. I see it in the person who chooses to work for themselves, skateboarders, the Dad who will still act a fool for his kids, single moms, anyone who works to be articulate instead of loud, people who adopt, people with big vision. I see it in people who in the face of reason continue have faith. I see it in my wife who is living the phrase “get back on the horse” after a pretty serious fall.
Risk is required to make good art. Art kills fear and fear kills art, and the willingness to take risk lets us know that you’re not afraid.
My personal risk meter is the dance floor. In most situations, I’m just not going out there. In that resistance I recognize fear and a deep aversion to risk. I see the same barriers that pop up in other places in my life.
If you can get out on the dance floor and do your awkward dance then my bet is you’re still growing. If not then chances are that you’ve become, like me, a bit sedentary.
Maybe this will help.