On The Importance of Effort

Figure at a Cliff's Edge

Struggle, pain, disharmony.
Why are these essential for the creative project?
Or is this just the myth of the tortured artist?
IS it a myth?
Why shouldn’t the artist live in a constant state of harmony?

Because, perhaps, harmony over time becomes banal, uninspiring.
We have to be continually shaken up to remain pure, focused, relevant.
Comfort, ultimately, becomes the devil’s work—
So we have to accept a certain amount of discomfort into our life.
It will come anyway—there’s no keeping it out.
And the oyster that accepts the irritating grit
Around which it makes a pearl, would agree, if it could
That our best creations are a coping strategy—
A way of dealing with emptiness and lack of meaning.

Art tells the truth. It looks our predicament in the face and paints it.
It feels the pain of age and decay moving through the body and dances it out with
A violet defiance;
It hears the cosmic emptiness and silence and
Fills it with a symphony.

“Sometimes I wonder,” said Graham Green,
“How all those who do not write, compose or paint
can escape the madness which is inherent in the human situation.”
Well put.

But we can’t ALL be artists. Or can we?
How many people would really want to be that sensitive, that strained
always on the edge, with no barriers or defenses against what
Is really going on?

Not many. And yet, the art schools are full,
More kids want to be “Creatives” than ever before.
Why? Because it looks cool; it’s stylish? Not at all.
To really go into the creative lifestyle is to lose touch with all that.
You have to find it in a new way. You have to find a new Cool, a new Hip
that nobody ever thought of before. But to find it you have to cross a large dark water,
You have to sail into the unknown and let go of all comfort, all serenity,
all consolation.

What love you have must be kept inside as fuel for the crossing. And therefore
if you do not have a great freight of love from childhood
or from that one teacher who believed in you,
you might well get lost and find yourself washed up with all the
other failed “Creatives”.

And yet to have tried and failed to make the crossing
is better than never having tried at all.
Everyone could learn from at least TRYING
to be an artist, trying to hear their own particular song,
their own particular meaning in the face of the great banality.

As long as the sun is there, we will keep growing towards it.
We will go as far as we can go before gravity gets the better of us,
And in a last gasp of failure and exultation we release our fruits, our pollen,
our message, to the spaces:
Keep trying, for gods sake keep trying…