My life has been smoothed over, slicked down with oil. This is what I’m thinking, absorbed in the tan muddy patches that are sprinkled all around my ankles, placed there as I awkwardly hop to avoid the larger puddles of muck.
While hiking back along one of the local wilderness trails this morning I was struck by the realization of how difficult it’s become to enjoy things. I don’t remember it being this hard when I was a little kid. Back then there were no experiences not worth having, and life seemed to be this eternal entity which defied description. It was not something other than myself; other than the moment in which it was experienced - it simply was. And now, the adult me is having difficulty distinguishing anything from anything else - it all still seems to be... but I am somehow not a part of that whole process. I feel excluded, diminished in some way.
As an artist, I so desperately want to be creative that I often feel like I am driving something of the creativity away. Fear has made me as soft as it’s made me hard, so that reconciliation with life and my seat of experiences seems impossible. And I find myself wondering if anyone else feels this way. Is this a constant among artists in general, or does it take the elastic quality of depression and mood swings to bring a personality to the edge of the cliff of apathy. Not apathy - I do care about things; I experience feelings and desires and drives - yet I also experience a profound disconnection from existence and the world. What am I? Who am I? Where am I going? If I knew these things would my life be complete? Probably not.
The sole constant for creating art appears to be, well, creating art. It seems that way to me, at any rate. The desire to create art is in itself an artistic process, even when the product of that process is all that anyone can ever truly see. The artist can make art about the process of making art, or even the desire to produce art - before the process comes alive - and yet these things are merely reflections of something else, something experienced solely within the individual; the solitary mind.
I find myself worrying a lot about being an artist.
Who is this silly person trying to create something?
What alarming egotism!
And I am obnoxiously egotistical, even as I am pervasively self-dissatisfied, and bitten by daily tremors of self-pity and over-analyzation. But I also want to make good art. I want to make art that other people will see and enjoy; learn from and explore. I want to make art worthy of art. I want to make art that makes me feel like me; brings me to the lip of life and lets me clearly see that it’s okay to jump. But what does that actually mean? Do I want it to be worthy of some critical ideal? Should my art be judged by a panel of my betters and/or peers? Perhaps good art is only good when nobody at first recognizes that it is good aside from the artist, who must diligently punish himself with the daily struggle to prove that his work means something. If that’s the case I can only hope that soon enough I find a degree of pleasure in my work that places me in that category. Then again, perhaps pleasure has nothing to do with it at all. Perhaps art is something you work at tirelessly not because it feels right, but rather because you’ve got nothing else to do to fill the void. Perhaps it is all of the above, and something else entirely depending on the day, the weather, the cycle of the moon, and how well breakfast happens to be sitting.
The only constant when it comes to art, it seems to me, is the desire to create it. If the desire remains, than the desiree is an artist, and the discussion can be at rest. I have to believe this, otherwise it doesn’t seem like there’s much point to anything at all. So for all I’m worth I’ll keep trying, and hoping, and secretly believing. And maybe I’ll even learn the daily motivation to work my fingers to the bone, even when - especially when - I feel nothing for anything at all.
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