Fly or Fry
“You must see the benefits in the choices you have made”, so goes the voice of a fellow artist, and like a shot of double espresso my mind gets a thinking … What is the benefit of the artist? , to a nation, to a people, to themselves. Okay, not to depress myself but I’ve been told that when conquerors invade a people, they first kill the artists. Ancient Rome it seemed fine tuned this art”. Today, the application of that tactic, I have also been told is to “demonize” them. In a sense change the narrative, their story “allies” become ‘repressive’, dissidents become freedom fighters and so on and on, I won't bore you with the CNNization of the gist.
AWAKE!, i just wanna..
Another day dawns and the questions still beckons, dripping water style; the metronome of my day. I wondered if we artists are all too often on a justification drive or simply on another quest for reinvention and redefinition. The buzz of nominations to the recent awards in the news only adds another layer as the feedback i receive from the recent auditions I conduct. I always ask participants this rather candid question "what do you want to get from this show"? Maybe it's just me but the regular answers seems base, trite, not fully through. “I just want to act”, dance, Sing!.
Really? Why?, followed by ….(paraphrased) it’s who I am. There. The journey to discovery has at least begun.
Less than 20 % of “artists” go on to make a living with their craft. You know, ... buy the needful, have a fulfilling life and sort out the home front solely on their hard earned craft. If you don’t break though after the can-i-crash-on-you-couch stage it becomes exponentially difficult to make those occasional gigs justify the vocational choice. As you take realistic steps to balance the tilt towards anarchy and doom the dream remains, gnawing at the seams of your soul unleashed every time another “artist” shows up.
TV shows become the critics round table and in spite of the romantic element a movie date always leaves that little “what if” questions running around like an early morning mosquito you cant kill in the dark. So you switch on the light. And the juggle begins.
Somewhere there a ball with the words “what are you doing?” gets often rudely tossed to you, usually by those who ‘care enough’ to offer their 2 cents, but sometimes in the wrong currency. It's another version of you facing the question “what is your value?” Cue bright searchlights!! this time you are the deer caught in the middle of whatever type of road you are on.
Is it a choice to be driven, to make the search for truth your profession?
Doctors heal the body, Psychiatrists the mind, priests the soul, teachers heal ignorance, what about the artist? All you need to do is look around you. Really look, like artist do and see the world.. your world. Now try and share it, candidly, passionately and yes... (my wife's favorite) get paid well doing it. It's interesting that the arts is one area where the soon coming artificial intelligence wave will not touch. Talk about fire proofing your future career. What is so important that actors, dancers, singers and other artist; simple storytellers do that AI cannot emulate? Our world is filled with meaning. Often what may seem contradictory is just another point of view.
Training to discover this truth that some call beauty and helping others make sense of it while being entertained is an honorable craft. A "high" art in my book.
In spite of the “go get a job”, get a life!, is-this-all-you-do?, you are so much more” comments which usually hides behind "cash" and how much of it you are earning, many artist cannot help themselves. A sensitive heart, a keen mind deeply experiencing more than it's fair share of realities, a desire to seek and speak a truth, explore beauty through skills that reach many is nothing to be ashamed of or denigrated.
The artists among us continue to use humor and satire to dialogue on difficult and deeply held difference delivering tools for crisis management and deeper understanding.
From the throne of kings to the side streets; the artist has always been needed to shout when other voices fear to whisper. A craft where we learn through countless hours and great skill to deliver insights to deeply hidden and intricately woven "opposites" is crucial to society. One key element still in the middle of the wish bone is the artists responsibility to his message, but that is for another day.
While many nations flounder politically, their artist speak a truth that shows the true colors and beauty of the people. In the midst of war, a song of mutual belief has the power to force a cease-fire, no matter how brief. Now that's value any day, especially in our world today. Now you get why the conquerors need out of the way.
Good things don’t always come when we want them to.
In fact there is a good argument to be made for the opposite being the case. If you want it you are going to have to fight and negotiate with life to give you what you believe you are due. Not to take away anything from right timing, missed opportunities and just plan old bad luck, but perseverance is a friend to the successful or aspiring artist. Next time you wonder why you don’t have time to practice, cash to perform or create, courage to dance or skills to entertain, remember to take one step at a time.
It's important to be confident and while juggling to make ends meet, throw back those 'nasty' balls with questionable words intent on watering down your sense of worth. It takes great courage to see what can be and choose to practice and sacrifice precious resources to bring it to the realm of being.
As with all endeavors it also takes planning and research to gain knowledge, the right influence around you, skills and fortitude to see it through. More an endurance race than a sprint if you get the gist. You time to deliver your message will come.Wait for it and in the mean time, keep training.