Ah, the easy, quixotic life of an artist/poet/[dancer/novelist/insert artsy profession here]. The dreamer, the optimist, that airy-fairy soul unbothered by reality…
Wait…which part is easy? Take a walk with me.
First, while I may have more flexible work hours than many others do, I generally work 45-60 hours/week…and it’s rare that I take a whole day off even on weekends. For this, I make far less than minimum wage. In my situation that’s doable, but if I was on my own it really wouldn’t be.
People do not value the arts as they should. Art and poetry are not “extras;” they are essential. They provide comfort, they remind us that we are all equally, messily, wonderfully human, they offer hope, they keep the daily grind and stresses from numbing our emotions…with art and poetry, we live more fully, instead of surviving.
My heart is always on my sleeve, and my career points to it, in a never-ending stream of deliberate vulnerability. You know how you feel when you tell someone something deeply personal, that sort of waiting-with-held-breath feeling, hoping they won’t see you differently (or at least not in a more negative light)?
That is my life. All the time. Every day. I put myself out there; I give everything I am to the world and pray it makes a positive difference, and that I’m not actually just further alienating myself from humanity at large. I say things in my poetry that I often don’t know if other people feel — but part of the reason I do it is so that other people reading my words will know they are not alone.
My art depicts sweeping moods and the themes of my existence, the things I think and feel and wonder. It’s not as explicit as poetry in some ways, maybe, but I paint my soul in one form or other every single time I sling inks.
I am a creative person by nature, but I am an artist and a poet by choice. This is not an easy road, but it’s the right road for me. I would rather be true to myself and receive crumbs or even scorn from the world than to walk a path where I don’t belong, even if it came with fat stacks and prestige. But that doesn’t make it simple.
Same thing with hope (and optimism). Hope is not a personality; it is a CHOICE. And it is a badass choice. It is an active decision to keep turning your face to the light, to the possibilities of better days. Hope is choosing to lift yourself and others, to embrace what could be — and when it’s not untethered from reality, hope asks us to find a way, to make a path, to create the future we want to see.
I am not saying that anyone could always feel hopeful; we all have those times when everything feels flat or negative and it’s hard to see past the moment we’re in…but when I have a choice, I’m going to choose hope, every time.
No one walks an easy road. No one. But that doesn’t make the paths less sweet — or in my case, less colorful!