Life is sometimes really hard. I’ve been in what can best be called a rough patch for the last few weeks, and no I don’t plan to talk about it here. But I will say that for me, when things get too hard, I revert to art.
When my master’s degree started to kick me in the pants, I wrote a novel. When my defense came and there was nothing else that could be done--I was literally just waiting for the day to arrive--I started painting again. I hadn’t painted since high school.
After these bursts of art, I always “settle back down” again—as if the pursuit of art is some sort of uppity, agitated state. As if the act of expressing ourselves is somehow a threat to the establishment.
Good question (more on how I like to live in a nice home and having electricity and heat at the bottom). It made me think, What does the world gain by me toeing the line and coming into my day job day after day? What would I do if I weren’t going to work all the time? Well, the last time I wasn’t going into work, I wrote two novels in just a couple months. I advanced my craft in writing and I took up dancing. When I started working again, I didn’t write as much and I’ve almost completely stopped dancing.
I stopped making art. I stopped doing the things I wanted to do to make sure I could do the things I HAD to do. Imagine if I’d stayed in that heightened state of making art? I’d have ~10 more novels. I’d have too many paintings to even fit in my house (well, I already do). At this point, I’d probably be making real money with my art. Probably not enough to live on alone, but there’s a potential. It makes me wistful to think of that life free of having to do the daily grind.
Free of the daily grind. Ah, there it is.
Then it dawned on me: art is a form of resistance. It is a threat to the establishment. If enough people make art and make art a way of life, it disrupts the drudgery work required for the oligarchy to function. The rich men in the world don’t need art. They need someone making their stuff that they sell to other people for double the price. They need the middle men. They need art to not compete with the products they sell, that they tell us we need in order to live the lives that they tell us we need to live. They don’t want you spending your money on that cute dragon you saw on etsy. They want you to buy the products out of the big box stores, the ones that are made overseas by the thousands and cost them pennies on the dollar.
Art is a threat.
Let that seep into your brain for a second. Art is the threat in the world of oligarchy. Art is the resistance.
Welcome to the resistance:
And about paying the bills: You have to do what you have to do. In general, there’s room for doing the things that make you feel alive. I have a day job, and it’s not something I’m giving up anytime soon for reasons of practicality. But just because I’m working a 9 to 5 (or more specifically, a 6 to 5), doesn’t mean I can’t be dedicated to making art as well. Do the things that bring you joy. That saying about the only real revenge is to live well? That’s the truth.