The other day, actress Louise Jameson shared a quote from Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., on Twitter that made me smile. Since the quote she shared was slightly edited, I will post the full (funnier, and much snarkier) original below the break.
If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
So many of us are intimidated by the arts, be it visual arts, stage, music, dance, whatever. We look at those who are held up as inspiration and think, “I am never going to be that good. Why even bother?”
I’ve been fortunate in my life to know a great many people who earn their living in the arts–musicians, writers, visual artists, and actors to name a few. These people are inspiring and impressive, and I’m always happy to spend time in their presence.
I also know they work their ever-loving asses off to be that successful. Hours and hours, years and years of work go into their success. They do it because it’s who they are, and because they want to make the most of their talent. They succeed because they’re determined and, yes, lucky.
You know what else I’ve learned from having friends who are artists?
They do not have a monopoly on creativity. While the arts may be their day job, it’s not something they are that much better at than other artists. It just happens to be how they make their living.
Something critical was lost in our culture when we bought into the idea that the only people who get to make art are the ones who do it for a living. As a species, we are driven towards creativity–our senses are all drawn that that which is startling, beautiful, challenging, and new.
We stop ourselves from singing, because we fear we’ll not be as good as the singer on the radio who’s inspired us with their song. We crumple up our doodling because the beak on the bird we drew is not quite right, and we’re afraid of being wrong. We never audition for that community theater production, even though we’ve been wanting to for decades.
All because of The Dreaded Red X. All because we fear not being good enough.
A couple of weeks ago, I joined a Daily Creation group on Facebook. I don’t consider myself an excellent or even a very good artist. With a children’s sketchpad, some colored pencils and markers, and MS Paint at my disposal, I’m not really highly equipped to create fine art.
But I am having the time of my life. Everyday, I watch my little drawings pop up in the feed with all these other drawings from people around the world. Most of them are so much better than I am, but I don’t feel bad about it. Because each time I draw something, I’m bringing a little more joy into the world for myself. Each time I share it, I’m sharing that joy with strangers. It doesn’t have to be good, just joyful.
As I continue, I push a little further. I put my raw drawings through filtering programs, testing them, trying new things until I find the effect I like best. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it all feels good.
Like it feels good to hear someone singing to themselves in the aisle at the grocery, so engaged in their own joy that they forget to be self-conscious.
Like it feels good to taste a meal prepared by a friend who just loves to cook, and isn’t afraid to venture off the recipe.
Like it feels good to dance along with the music, even though you know you look the fool.
Art, creativity, and joy belong to all of us. They are our spiritual birthright. And they feel wonderful!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s blog. If you’d like to become part of the Daily Creative Group I’m on, or if you’d just enjoy learning more about making art, I highly suggest artist Terry Runyan‘s YouTube channel.
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