Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rejections and defeats

This week I received notification from the Canada Council that I did not receive the grant that I had applied for . This is not the first time I have been rejected for a grant, and likely will not be the last. Though I have never received a grant from the Canada Council, I have received several from the Ontario Arts Council for various undertakings. The most recent grant from the Ontario Arts Council is enabling me to participate in the Convergence weaving conference taking place this year in Albuquerque New Mexico. But, back to my hopes in the Canada Council grant. Rejection. It's not easy to take. What does it mean exactly when an organization such as these granting agencies reject one's application. It's hard not take it personally. On the other hand, what message is it that I should be extracting from it? Does it mean my work is not worthwhile, not valued? Does it mean that for them, tapestry weaving is not what they consider to be artistically significant enough? Is it that I am not significant enough in their estimation? And what is it that would, in their estimation, make my work, my undertakings and my self, worthy enough of receiving, above all, their support and encouragement. When was the last time I ask myself, that a tapestry weaver received support from the Canada Council? Are they saying my work is not good enough? Socrates says " The highest form of excellence is to question oneself." So many questions, and unfortunately, no answers. Furthermore, there is absolutely no feedback to guide one as an artist as to how to work towards meeting the criteria while still trying to maintain artistic authenticity and integrity. In my rejection letter, I am told that if I would like to know who did receive Canada Council grants, that I would have to make a request in writing, in 3 months time, the list of who received the grants. OK. Better put that on my agenda so that I try to remember to do this in 3 months while I'm busy scrambling, like most artists and craftspeople to earn a living.
Rejection is something that one has to accept especially when one is an artist/craftsperson. It's never easy, but one certainly cannot let it prevent one from doing what you want to do, from achieving what you hope to achieve. Of course, receiving grants enables one to achieve one's goals sooner rather than later, especially if one is not independently wealthy or part of 'stable' of a handful of elite artists that these organizations consistently support.
Recently I picked up a book at the Salvation Army, hand bound, filled with poetry. Many of the poems were very inspiring but this one, though not a poem, resonated with me in regards to winning and losing, and this is what was printed in the book:
There was a businesman who whenever someone would bemoan their misfortunes in busines, love or life in general, would take them aside and invite the person to study a framed handlettered sign hanging on the wall. It read:
'31 - failed in busines
'32 - defeated for legislature
'33 - failed in business again
'34 - elected to legislature
' 35 - sweetheart died
'36 - suffered nervous breakdown
'38 - defeated for speaker
'40 - defeated for Elector
'43 - defeated for Congress
'46 - elected to Congress
'48 - defeated for Congress
'55 - defeated for Senate
'56 - defeated for Vice President
'58 - defeated for Senate
'60 - elected President of the United States
signed Abraham Lincoln.
Life is full of these defeats and rejections, which pave the way for the successes and accomplishments we hope to attain. One must keep dreaming, keep striving, keep hoping, and above all keep doing. One must not let life's defeats blind one to the small victories, the numberous joys, and the many blessings that have filled and will continue to fill our lives. One can only accomplish as much as the opportunities circumstances present to one. In the I Ching, the great book of Chinese wisdom, it is said that all of us must work within the limitations life presents. It's important to me that on my deathbed though, I will never have to say to myself that I didn't try as hard as I could to make my dreams come true, that I tried as hard as I could to accomplish my goals and objectives. I'll continue to knock at the Canada Council's door and maybe one day it will open.