My advice to myself if I had another chance

Henry Wuorila-Stenberg

I was weak.

I could not withstand my tormentors' insinuations without faltering. My poisoned mind led me astray countless times. If I could return to the beginning, this is what I would tell myself:

What is the highest need of your spirit? What do you fall back on at the moment of your despair? What consoles you when your grief is deepest?

When you believe you know the answer in your heart, direct your entire being toward it alone. Never forsake the most important gift of your life. Protect, nurture, cherish and nourish it with your love. You are your own worst enemy.

If you place art above all other things, hold it more precious than anything else. Remember that your work may be your only gift and your only chance to see into the deepest regions of light, brightness and darkness. If you do it right, you may become friends with your inner powers. The powers that flow from the one and the same spring, entwined with each other.

Prepare for your work with meditation and concentration because attentiveness is critical for your spring to well forth. Avoid routines because it is not good to work out of a sense of duty without joy or an inner urge. Your mistakes, which you will make, may rattle you, but remember that they are useful for learning so do not remove them too soon, before you have examined them thoroughly. Consider your failures the guardians and protectors of your art because you will not create anything of value without pain. Successes and progress are, in part, mistakes that have become understanding. Learn to consider them equally as answers. Learn to see everything as perfect.

Remember that shame is a good teacher but failure is an even better one. Without temptation you cannot achieve wisdom and without compulsion and losing everything there can be no humility – no clear vision, no strong, unwavering work. So look your truth in the eye, reveal reality as you see it. Then your only task is to obediently keep on working because your works are your treasures, everything that matters to you and what is valuable flows into your life through them.

Only those changes in working, the reasons of which cannot be reached by your consciousness, can bring joy because everything else is just imitation. Occasionally you must, however, struggle in order to discover the purpose of your actions. If you cannot make progress in your work, do not waste time worrying about it. It, too, will pass.
When you are in the depths of depression, focus on what is right in front of you and think what does and does not depend on you and then keep them separate.

Give up the fantasy that you will complete something through endless improvements because nothing in this world is perfect. Learn to see the unknown eternity, perfection itself in this unfinished, incomplete and uncertain imperfection.

There will be no easy compensation. There is always a rift caused by chaos. Danger. Disaster. Distortion. Horror. But also love because love and destruction go hand in hand in art and they keep the wheel of destruction and creativity turning, without which there is no art.

Rise to the electric crest of this living death and remember that living in this ephemeral vessel is a continuous balancing act between everyday order and primordial rage.
If there is too much order, will and control, creativity will be blocked, dull and dead. If there is too much of destruction alone, the outcome will be confused and disconnected.

Non-sensical ideas may be the most important thing for your creativity and you should not look down on wasting time. Give it everything you have, don't hold back and even go too far to reach your goal because otherwise you will never know what is enough and what is too little.

Do not be ashamed of your conscience and your own lowly and stinking ugliness.
Even if it means that you will be an outcast, despised and hated. Even if it does not please anyone and would make everyone disappear from around you. Defy the shallow image others try to force upon you to control you and create a reality for you.

No matter how sacred your values are, you must be prepared to break them in your art, but keep what is most precious to your safe in your heart. You must never give it up.

Do not take your soul for granted or insult it with supine whining. Stop lying and disparaging yourself. No matter if you have broken your promise a thousand times and again.

In your work be brazenly individual, free, selfish, on your own terms and raw. Do not compare yourself to others because it will destroy your uniqueness, which matters so much in creative work.

What is it to be an artist? It means to be honest. Never forget this, even if you were to "achieve" something "big". It is all meaningless compared to the good heart of life.

Use carefully defined ways to create extravagant paintings. Do not mistake surface for reality but remember that eternity begins right under the surface and that a painting is not a two-dimensional object. Yet do not pursue things that are not dependent on you and that escape your grasp. What is necessary is easy to gain and what is difficult to attain you do not really need.

Remember – before it gets you in trouble and when you survive despite being despised – that you are not sufficiently strong in your own art. You should be aware of the current discourses and what is in fashion so that you can do something else.

Avoid what is easy and self-evident and let confusion take over your thoughts. Get lost and dwell deeper into darkness. Art that looks like art can bring temporary success but will eventually lead to a dead end or even worse, to a dry well.

So be unabashed in your sincerity. Do not lie with your art because a single lie may be the end of your creativity. Be attentive because you are always in danger of losing everything that is important to you if you make easy choices and compromises.

Remember that attacks that are the result of your laziness and bitterness, greed and spiritual stupidity are the most serious ones. The missteps and lapses they cause can be painful.

Keep away from the zeitgeist, respect for the artworld, fame, money, theories, power and art raised on a pedestal. Keep away from flattery from those in power and hope instead that your works are despised and hated in the cabinets of the gluttons.

Remember that the world is supposed to think your art is absurd and that you cannot heal everyone. Do not be offended when you are disparaged by others; remember, dogs bark at things they cannot understand. Ignore blows delivered by mediocre and spiritually listless artists. They despise you because of your individual talent and because you will not follow fashion.

Do not forget how unique and ephemeral our worldly life is. We all stand in horror at the abyss of non-existence and disappear forever, who knows where. Few people are aware of this and even fewer are not crushed by the awareness. So keep your eye on death every day and think about the transience of the world and you will know why and how to paint. Yet never do what you are expected to or what is wanted of you.

Give people strength and courage even if you were mad with horror. Instead of a clenched fist, offer solace, but remember that sometimes a tender caress hides violence that is immeasurably deeper than a knife.

What is most important is not to lie. If you cannot refrain from lying, at least be quiet. The worst thing that can befall an artist is that when his strength ebbs, he discovers that he has only sung the songs of others, and that he has never lived himself.

Be like a bullet, an explosion, and the protector of light, be a torchbearer through the darkness.

Finally I say to you: recoil from your own wisdoms and illusions of uniqueness because every truth is temporary. And remember, don't take yourself too seriously.