15 January 2017

Ramblings on Artists, Depth, and Loneliness

9 January 2017, 9.21pm.

I've been pondering (so what else is new?): I think I'm starting to get an idea of why so many artists commit suicide or get addicted to any number of things.

It's lonely. But not just in that there-are-no-people-around or I'm-always-on-tour-away-from-my-family way. It goes deeper than that. I'm noticing increasingly that people in general don't think deeply -- but I do, and that one difference puts a disconnect between us. I guess I always sort of knew that in the back of my mind... and the fact that since I was a child people have remarked on my (sometimes) acute observations and how 'smart' I am should have tipped me off. 'Smart,' I have learned, is code for 'thinks about deep things.' This, in turn, is code for 'she's weird -- don't hang around her.' Even as a kid I was lonely. I thought it was just because I lived out in the middle of nowhere.

I'm realising, though, that there's this deep-seated loneliness that almost defies explanation. I myself didn't even realise it was there until this school year, though I've certainly felt it all my life. It's this longing to connect, on a soul-to-soul level, to someone, anyone, who thinks about deep things too. Someone who understands why it's important to feel, why we need music and dance and paintings and beauty and stories, what it's like for your heart and soul to ache and not know why. Someone who can see -- at least sometimes -- through my eyes and understand the hollowness that never quite goes away, even when I'm happy and content. This is probably why I have such an obsession with Daniel Amos, David Meece, and Prodigal -- because they saw it too. They feel it too. There are at least three other figures who have ever existed who get it. They can take the words out of my mouth -- and sometimes that is solace enough.

If this is the mind of the typical artist -- if this depth and these feelings are what makes the artist an artist -- no wonder so many of them die young. No wonder so many are addicted to anything that numbs the mind, that turns off these feelings that sometimes seem to hold us hostage whose existence nobody is willing to acknowledge. And suicide -- well, that's the ultimate 'off' switch. But is it really better to live without feeling? It would be easier, yes... but is it really better? This is the question we face more often than we feel we are allowed to admit.

This whole thing is even trickier as an artist with depression. Where does one end and the other begin? What level of deep-seated melancholy is 'normal' and when should I start to get concerned? Am I doomed to spend the rest of my life always seeing the ends of things clearly enough that I can never truly enjoy the beginnings and the middles?

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