I've always been sensitive. And well meaning people have told me that I am too sensitive and need to develop a thicker skin so I can wade through the world.
So I've wrestled. How do I keep a sensitive and soft heart - all the while protecting that with a tough exterior?
But lately I've wondered if I need to rethink this idea. Because being sensitive is one of the most needed parts of being an artist. I need to be sensitive. I need to feel things deeply. I need to practice empathizing with others. I need to ache and love and live with a large passionate heart.
Without this my art because a stiff shell.
But the world doesn't always protect the sensitive. And I even find myself mocking things that are 'weak' or too soft.
I've begun to wonder if rather than creating a hard shell or thick skin what I need is a deeper rooted sensitivity. A stubborn love for the things I am creating. A stubborn love for those things that are weak and sensitive. A persistence searching love for those beautiful sensitive things in life.
I have witnessed some beautiful examples of parenting in my life. And these men and women are parents who walk with their hearts extended to the children that they love. And yet this sensitivity doesn't make them weaker, it fills them with a beautiful strength.
Tonight I heard Makoto Fujimura speak. His work and words have had such a powerful impact on my own life and art. Over the years listening to him speak and reading his words and watching his work fill the world has challenged me to think about the creative process. To first have the courage to go after the terribly impractical work of creating beauty. And then tonight the reminder that the gift of the artist is to bring a sensitive heart and soul to the world.
If life is a gift maybe my gift back to the world is to walk with courage into the sensitive. To boldly feel and dive deep into the layers of what it means to feel and experience this life. To be willing to be me, even the too sensitive, walking bleeding heart Sarah. To let myself be the often messy feeling being that is too sensitive.
Makoto Fujimura gives me the courage to see that this embodiment of sensitivity and care for the world is possible. For his gift of sensitivity I am grateful. It gives me the hope that my sensitivity can be a gift and not a burden to the world.