Burning to Ashes

Sometimes we demand too much of ourselves. We put so much pressure on ourselves that we begin to run in circles and lose sight of what is really important. We lose sight of our wellbeing and our health.


Currently I am suffering from a severe tendonitis (or something similar, the specialist’s appointment I have in two weeks…) and I need to take care of my injured hand. This means I am not able to create - no shooting, no editing and even using a computer and typing this text causes unpleasant feelings of tension and evolves into pain if I don’t pause often enough. This forced break is really hard for me, but it led me to think about my art, my creative process, about what I create, why I create and all the things that hinder me to create. And I realized that there are some things that need to change.


Of course I am absolutely not happy with my injured hand - far from that. And I am afraid of the diagnosis and the consequences. But there is nothing I can do about it and to be honest - I am the only one to blame. When the pain started I should have paused, I should have slowed down, but I didn’t. I just taped my hand, I put a hand support on - and I went on and on and on. And this meant working on the computer and using my right hand nearly every minute I was awake. My part time job encompasses a bit of photography - but mostly editing, texting and other computer work. And in my free time I was working out ideas, conceptualizing (including sketches, writing, research), preparing photoshoots, doing photoshoots, editing and developing the pictures. Additionally my regular fitness training includes working with dumbbells, a lot of planking etc. So my hand was overloaded for weeks and month in a row. But instead of listening to my body and taking it slow, I just went on and let my hand burn out. Burn for your passion - I took that too literal and started to destroy my health, to burn my hand for it. And now I have to cope with not being able to do anything at all.


It’s three weeks now, since I was “taken out”. And I never felt that uneasy and restless before. I have to admit I am a workaholic and I crave to do sooo many things right now - but I just can’t. I even cried several times, and not because of the pain or the anxiety - I cried because I felt pure desperation over not being able to create. But after the initial desperation, anger and even sadness, something inside myself began to shift.



Sometimes we aren’t able to create, and this is a really horrible condition for an artist. But let’s be honest - maybe this is a hiatus we have delayed for far too long. We don’t take the time out until we are forced to do. And this is my situation right here, right now. I am a human, not a machine, I need to take care of my health. And even if I love everything I do with every fibre of my heart, body and soul - I am not made to work 24/7. For me it doesn’t even feel like work, because I love it so much, but for my body it clearly is. I didn’t allow myself to sleep enough, I didn’t allow myself a lot of free time (and with that I mean time with family, friends and doing things unrelated to my creativity and craft) and I exhausted my body. And now I ask myself why?


Why are we pushing ourselves so hard? Why are we burning ourselves - mind and body? We are stretched to our limits and still keep pushing forward. And often it is a slow process of exhaustion. But why? I suppose an important factor is that we are born into an achievement-oriented society. We only feel to be enough when we work hard enough, when we perform and produce results on a regular basis. And those of us - myself included - that are perfectionist are even worse. We set goals we can’t even achieve, or at least not in that short time span we allow ourselves. We lose our balance, can’t come down and relax - we just push and push and then… fall.


What I realized is this: I demand too much of myself. And it’s time to stop! Regardless of when my hand will be (hopefully) healed - I can’t go on like that. And I don’t want to. I need to structure my days, schedule my time and take time off. I need to alternate work and recreation phases. And beyond that my creation process needs to change as well. I did a lot just for the sake of doing something. And I will definitely stop that! I am currently diving deep into my creative core and digging out what is really important to me - what I really want to say, what needs to be created, to find out what I am meant to bring to the table. I don’t want to create anything shallow ever again! I realized that only when I change I will be able to reach my full potential!


And I recommend you do the same. Think about your process, about what you are doing and if you are doing it in a healthy rhythm. Don’t wait until you are burned! Let your heart and soul burn for whatever you do - but don’t burn your health. Take care of yourself!


In conclusion I can say that this forced hiatus changed a lot for me. It made me realize that I want to create art that has a meaning, that I want to create with all my heart and soul. I don’t want to create just for the sake of creating anymore. Without darkness, there is no light. And I found my light in these dark times. After all, everything that happens is meant for us to grow.


When something burns to ashes, something even better will rise from the ashes!  

Michaela Jung-Vogelwiesche

Fine Art Photography

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