May 19, 2010

I am Art, and you can too!


Supernova remnant Cassiopeia A

“Wisdom is the bride of God, and we are a part of her.”*

In January I had a dream:

A woman stood on a hill and said “you will make a difference in people’s lives,” to the all the people who could hear her. But I watched as others ignored her, and chose a self-centered search for physical fulfillment instead, played out in various compromising positions. In my dream, the task fell to me. Suddenly, I was walking through an art museum. I saw a dark-skinned woman (“dark am I, but lovely” says the bride in Song of Solomon), chained to a chair like Cassiopeia. I broke her chains and carried her, running, out of the museum.

I get it now. It was Wisdom. The woman in the dream was a representation of that divine spark, scattered throughout creation, which we are meant to gather, unify, and so make tikkun olam (the restoration of the world). In a practical sense I do this by loving God and my fellow man, and speaking the truth that is in my heart. "If you believe that you can damage, believe that you can repair." --Rebbe Nachman.

I’m pretty sure now that this was a dream speaking about people in the Arts. The struggle of the artist - my struggle, people! I'm not just philosophising - inevitably includes the lure of self-centeredness and an intense longing and desire for fulfillment that can begin with sex, lead to drugs, and, finally, tragically, to rock and roll (tee hee).

"I've worked with a lot of artists, Em, and they all have a need that cannot be met by another human being."
- Madeleine L'Engle,
Certain Women

We need to move past these distractions if we are to make a difference. (ok, not rock and roll…. even if it is dead.)

This one goes out to all Artists; this is not a call to drop what you’re doing and become monks and missionaries. And it sure as blazes has nothing to do with fame and fortune. This is a call to you, dear people, of all backgrounds, to simply serve the work. (another L’Engle quote)

Choose to be who you are; choose a life of Art – an ArtLife, if you will. (Dan & Dawne Broadfield's term) And I say this to you as one who spent most of my life, till a few years ago, keeping the term artist at arms length. Why?? Because I was being stupid. True story.

If you are a songwriter: set aside time to compose more. If you are a painter: paint more. If you are a photographer: go nuts…. Yeah, yeah, I know: we all have to do things we don’t want to do to earn money, but don’t let the pursuit of physical fulfillment choke out your true self, your true calling.

Serve the work and let the Infinite speak. We’ll bring healing to the world by speaking the truth that is in our hearts.

I’m not telling you that I know what this is gonna look like. But I know it’s what’s good, and I know it’s what’s right…

“Choose Art,“ says that still small voice to me, time and time again…

Choose Art.

Creation, 2009, דבורח

*this is a statement that came to me today while I was walking through a park. For me, it clicked several pieces I had been puzzling over into place. It may not make sense to you, but maybe I can esplain some other time... or at least sum up, if it's too much.