“When I look at the lives of the poets, I understand what’s wrong with me. They were willing to make the sacrifices that I’m not willing to make. They were so tortured, so messed up. I’m only a little messed up.”I understand this sentiment, the idea that my problem is that I don’t have problems, or rather I have problems, but there’s not big enough, not deep enough, not whatever enough. Sometimes I go to women’s circles or spiritual meetings, and I start to feel left out because I have no deep scaring, no great emotional revelation to present about my life.
— Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
I’ve come to believe that it’s a completely ridiculous sentiment — the idea that one has to experience a fucked up life to achieve any kind of artistic or spiritual greatness. Yes, there are authors, poets, artists out there, who their suffering is an integral part of their art, but there are also other authors, poets, and artists, who create fabulous art while living a mostly harmonious life.
One can connect to world deeply and profoundly without diving through shards of glass or wandering the dark monster filled tunnels of depression. Sometimes, it’s enough to just sit completely still and be quiet for a while, to listen, to be aware of what goes on around you.
You don’t have to be at war with the world and yourself to create. You just have to have the passion and drive, the deep rooted desire to create something that someone somewhere will find of value. Maybe it will be one of the great works of history. Maybe it won’t. But it will be yours, your creation, and that’s enough.
[Cross-posted to my website. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]