ALCHEMY OF WORDS
ALCHEMY OF WORDS
notes on madness & art
Makers Are Heroic.
Let’s talk about the perceptibly impossible task of juggling life with art. The elusive balance between art on one side of the equation. And family. And money. And other jobs. And difficult kids. And countless pulls and tugs of meetings and school and bills and doctors and oil changes and shopping for health insurance and pulling weeds and cleaning the garage and shopping for clean food and paying attention to the cyclone of disastrous political shenanigans and the daily researching of a hundred different things for as many reasons.
Of course, there’s also the sway of whiskey. Which sometimes brings gold but more often is just a waste of time and calories. And then there’s sex and what it is and what is could be and what it should be and when it will come again and whether you did all the things you should before during and after it. There’s also the finding time (and energy) for it.
Still there are innumerable other unreasonable demands on your time and energy. And maybe I shouldn’t even mention sleep and vacations. These and other superhuman tasks we are just supposed to figure out.
To make good art requires us to know and feel our emotions. To bear our souls while we also bare them. To be vulnerable enough to lay out hearts out on the table for the world to see. And then be strong enough to remain standing if they are judged too harshly.
We are charged with this work and more. Like holding the light with one hand, while stitching the world together with the other. We must be shape-shifters. We must walk in multiple worlds, serve as ambassadors to each one, remember the different languages and customs here and there, and not completely crack the fuck up.
If we succeed, we are gods. If not, we’re dreamers and castoffs. Fledgling humans who couldn’t make it in the world where the grown-ups live. We must simultaneously love the world, and also know when to tell it to fuck-off. So we can do our work. We must resist being thrown off kilter by the siren call of mediocrity. We must question everything and still have the confidence to follow our own voices, to be focused enough not lose them in the crowd.
And you probably know, the pull of the crowd is strong. I don’t just mean wanting to fit in or be liked. I mean the ever-rushing current of the modern world. I’m not saying I have definitive answers to any of these riddles. My best advice is to do like Same Phillips says and no matter what happens, hold on to your voice.
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This is one of 66 essays in the Gold Nautilus Award winning collection, Happiness Is an Imaginary Line in the Sand.
The book is available here: https://bit.ly/40s3Gh0
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