Originally written as a response to an artist friend of mine, this just seemed like something worth sharing on a larger scale. Enjoy!
As I told Sooj a few months back, some of us cut ourselves to bleed Art… not because it’s fun (though it can be) or because we want to (we often have no choice) but because it’s what makes us feel alive.
Like you, I’ve wished my life could be simpler. More financially secure. A life that didn’t involve tearing my skin off for an audience that could range from single digits to thousands of people I might never see. I’ve been vilified by people who haven’t met me simply because I did things they had not done. Bruised egos, creative rivalries, endless insominacal nights wondering how the fuck I’d pay the bills, and the occasional job or friendship or love relationship that justDISAPPEARED for no reason I could see. The passion of daring what other folks dream about doing, and the fits of mercurial temper or dredged moodiness that bubble up from nowhere – all those things and more are part of this quicksilver lifestyle that drives us on.
It’s no wonder that you, like so many other artists, wonder why you fucking bother.
We are the dream of Life personified. Our passions, our awareness, the crafts we hone and the things we dare and the insights we claw out eyes out to see – they’re bigger than just us.
Through the things we do, we change the world. Sometimes person-by-person, sometimes in vast numbers, we speak for people who don’t know the words, dance for those who can’t feel their legs, sing and scream and throw paint at the walls inside our heads on behalf of all the people who feel the same way but don’t even know where or how to begin to express it.
Life is fury and joy eating itself every second of each day. It’s the perpetual birth-death scream of endless ecstasy – the recreation of each cell and molecule, the constant thunderstorms across the brains of every living thing. It’s the whirlwind of awareness that every human heart feels but few can truly understand. It is unpredictable and capricious and it always ends the same way: with death, decay, and rebirth into something new.
Those of us who embrace Art – not kiddie-school play or consumer product, but the Real Deal that speaks the Truth – feel Life rippling underneath our skins. It drives us sometimes literally crazy with the things we feel and can never truly express. Our limitations – of time, money, fear, social constraint, physical capacity – seem at times like razor-barred cages. We can pace back and forth, drug ourselves blurry, lash out at the people masochistic enough to share our lives, throw ourselves against those bars or cower in the middle and pretend they aren’t there… except they are. And we know it. And we might never escape them all… except maybe, just maybe, if we dare enough to be raw enough, we might dance our way past the worst of them, inspiring other folks to do the same.
That’s what Art does.
It expresses things beyond words.
It speaks for those who HAVE no words.
It celebrates and warns and cherishes and mourns, and the whole human condition – perhaps far beyond just our own concerns – is mirrored and intensified by acts of Art.
This is a holy charge, a sacred duty. That’s why we’re alive.
It’s scary and it’s painful and it’s totally fucking worth it.
As Bikram said, This is going to hurt. Don’t be afraid.