Artistic Aspirations

So you woke up this morning dissatisfied. Your day-to-day life is somehow insufficient. It might not be extreme discomfort, but there is a lack of fulfilment. You wonder if what you are doing really matters. You start to have one of those existential crises.

I have those too. Almost every day. I am a writer; this sort of omphaloskepsis is what keeps me going.

So deep into your existential crises, you pop online and start questioning the modern equivalent of the Oracle of Delphi. Yes, Google. You hammer out some search phrases in the hope that some existentially-adept individual will come to your rescue.

If that was how you found this post, Google failed you. I am just as confused as you are.

There was a time when life was simple. You’d run away from predators, eat, fall asleep under a tree and thank your lucky stars you weren’t chewed to pieces. Your life was pretty pointless … or was it? I don’t know what I would have done back then. I would have been too busy trying to find something to eat to spend much time or energy on things like this blog. I don’t think cavemen were big on blogging.

Today, we are even more confused than the poor cavemen trying to decide what to do next, naked in the forest. Now we’re clothed with an illusion of certainty that tells us we are supposed to know what we are doing.

But we are still naked in the forest.

Isn’t it strange that as the dominant species on this planet, we are basically enslaved by work? And the majority of work is painfully boring and repetitive. Surely we could have made things a bit more fun for ourselves by now!

You are supposed to follow your passion, but good luck finding it. Mark Cuban wrote a nice post about this vaunted ideal. You won’t have a chance to really explore the world because we have to get you specialised and schooled and ready for corporate life as quickly a possible. There is no time to lose worrying about a meaningful life. These silly things pale in comparison to the importance of a reliable income.

And good luck if you want to be a writer, a musician, an artist. You are screwed. Everybody tells you that you must follow your dream, but looks down on you for doing so. The struggling musician is seen as a ne’er do well. People either encourage him unconditionally or condemn his aspirations as unrealistic. Often both. The passionate writer is doomed to eventually give in and write the next 50 Shades of Despair. Of course you should follow your passion, provided that passion is commercially viable. Otherwise don’t think you’ll be marrying my daughter, Mr-Passionate. Take your guitar and your delusions elsewhere. Go get a real job.

Without those guys who take chances and follow their passion, there would be no writers, musicians or artists. We would have a pretty grim world to live in. But nobody is supposed to do it unless it is commercially viable. But it won’t be commercially viable when you start, but you must follow your passion, no matter what. But you’re a failure if you don’t earn enough money. You’re a freak and a mess if you don’t have an orderly life.

So make up a passion that works and follow it. Be yourself provided you’re just like me.

I’ll be proud of myself if I can face that gaping uncertainty. To say that I didn’t know if anybody would like my work. To give up my starry-eyed illusions of certain success and trade them for the courage and fortitude to accept the possibility of failure … and to keep writing anyway.

Last night I had dreams of disaster. I felt the devil’s hot breath on the nape of my neck. My responsibilities, the pressure of running a functional life, the infinite amount of energy that has to be expended to be Nicholas Cross, writer.

I woke up this morning dissatisfied, just like you. I faced the blank page. I wrote this blog post and now I’m inviting you to condemn my artistic aspirations.

We writers are crazy, aren’t we?


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