Sometimes our greatest attributes were formed in depths and darknesses of despair that no language has yet to create words to describe.
Things happen to us in life that cause cracks in our internal emotional infrastructure—shorts in our wiring that prevent us from thinking clearly, smoke screens that blind us, all sorts of blocks that keep us from expressing ourselves in ways that others can understand. And sometimes, we don’t even understand them ourselves. Sometimes we can’t even identify what those cracks are, what caused them, or even where, precisely, they are. All we know is that we are left wordless, while emotions rage within like storms contained within fragile glass bulbs.
So we write books in the midnight hours that nobody will ever see.
Or we dance with the blinds pulled and the music blasting into our brains through a set of earbuds, while the neighbors become agitated by the sound of our footfalls.
Or we work that clay with our hands, forming it into emotion that someone else can feel when they pick it up on a shelf somewhere someday, at a thrift store in some small town on the outskirts of nowhere.
Or we paint. Red isn’t red. It’s a strong feeling, or it’s a bleeding heart. Blue isn’t blue. It is sadness when mixed with a dab of black, or grief when mixed with a little red, or serenity when blended with just enough white, or it is the ocean when merged with green and white and a shard of sunlight. Yellow is the hope that shines in spite of it all.
What goes into every work of art (whether it is dance, or pottery, or writing, or painting) is the culmination of all the frustration or wonder or love or grief that has been growing within that fragile glass ball for God only knows how long, and for God only knows what reason, because God only knows who we really are, and what we really are and eventually, what we will become. The latter of the three, we certainly will not know until we arrive at that destination.
Yet, through all of this madness we, the artists of the world, leave a legacy that perhaps won’t mean a damn thing to anyone except individuals like lonely girl who walks into that thrift store in the middle of nowhere someday, and holds in her hands an amateurish figurine that bears no artist’s signature, but that holds within its unpolished clay all of the feelings she’s never been able to express. She buys it and brings it home and places it on her bedside table to remind herself every day that sometimes, beauty is born of pain. She just knows at a cellular level that somewhere out there, someone knows exactly how she feels, and that brings a small measure of comfort.
Maybe that is why we exist—we, being the artists, and the freaks, and the misfits, and the weirdos, and the black sheep. Maybe we exist to express without words, what others cannot with their university degrees. Maybe we are the bridge between the soul and the brain—the translators between both worlds.
There are no delusions of grandeur hidden within that statement. Closer to the truth might be to say that we hope and pray that all of the soul that we pour into everything we create won’t all be for nothing at the end of our days. I suppose it won’t matter if that turns out to be the case because we’re driven by forces we cannot explain to create even when there seems to be no sound, logical reason to keep on doing so.
We do it because we must. It is that simple. And that complex.