“Everything is gestation and then bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of new clarity: that alone is living the artist’s life: in understanding as in creating.”
–Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
For nearly my whole life, I wanted to be a writer.
A novelist, to be exact. I dabbled in short stories, I dabbled in poetry. But the novel? That was the form I held up high, the form of art I thought was supreme, the form upon which I thought rested all my happiness.
I longed to escape, you see. I spent my whole life trying to escape. And the novel helped me do that.
Imagination is an amazing thing. Imagination saved me many times. When I was in pain, or lonely, the stories I read and the stories I created took me away so that I could return to my life with fresher eyes. Renewed.
But I’ve gotten to a point where I’m tired of escaping. Because it’s a privilege and a luxury to do so, and I’m not so confident that escaping has any benefit in the long-term.
There are a lot of books on the shelves in the houses of the people I hold dear. A lot of books. But how many contain a truth that propels to action? How many can change a life, or the world?
I know Spirit moves through literature and music and all forms of art. This rendering here, or that turn of phrase, gets us closer and closer to the Source of things, hopefully, and opens a window for understanding.
But I’m finding a lot more understanding would come if we passed a hungry beggar on the street and bought him a sandwich. A lot more good may come from that, than sitting in a room for seven years, trying to write a short story.
Art is wonderful, and I love it. But there is a lot of hollow art. And there is a lot of ego in the attempt to create something from the world of imagination and ideas. Sure, it can be beautiful. But there’s a lot more beauty, I tell you, in helping a mother feed her newborn baby, or paying for a poor kid to go to an after-school program.
Artists need to stop worshiping other artists and start worshiping God.
This world is a pretty scary place. There is a lot of damage being done, every day. We see it, but we don’t recognize how much we’re a part. We think the problem belongs to them over there, and the way they think. We think we’re righteous and good. We’re elevated and better. We care about people. We have empathy. Look at this pretty thing we made.
But I tell you, the world is your classroom, if you want to create art. You don’t need to sit in front of some world-renowned academic lecturer. A city street is as vibrant and dirty and confusing and beautiful as any Picasso painting you will ever see.
If I’m going to let the energy of art come rushing into me, if I’m going to make love with any form of art, I want it to be a channel of Spirit. I want to know that it sends a nod to the Divine.
I want to know I am going to be transformed.
Because we don’t need more pompous, egoic, long-winded angry rants in this world. We just don’t.
We need vessels of Divine Love.