“No single idea or social movement can solve the daunting problems facing the modern world. Imagination is the deepest power of the human soul and what the world needs now is more people awakening to the power of imagination in their own soul.”
– “Michael Meade
I have never thought of myself as an Artist. I have whittled this thought conception back to a moment in third grade. To a splice of time when I internalized that some people are Artists and others just are not. I can see my oversized front teeth, stretch pants and bowl cut cornering my teacher with concern. I was in a state of panic during a free exercise, encased in what my peers were drawing, and I was worried I couldn’t do it. I had hardly a line on the page, but I wanted to know how to tell if I was going to be good at it. I asked Mrs. Jacobs how to know if I was an Artist. She said, “if you have a picture in your head and when you draw it looks like the image in your head that means you are an Artist.” Well, shit. The drawings that came out looked nothing like the carnival in my overactive little head. My show ended early, my distilling in a moment. I shuffled back to my desk with my diagnosis. Prospects were slim, I could be an olympian gymnast, the sixth spice girl, or I’d be homeless.
Fast forward; I quit gymnastics, stopped listening to the Spice Girls (in public) and the homeless bit is debatable. Tiny me, that felt helplessly overwhelmed by self comparison transposed into adult life. Getting older does not mean we lose the childhood inhibitions. Instead they tag along, and chime in hoping to help in the sticky spots. Stickiness and children is a dicey coalition. Just my observation.
I have mostly pieced together my rebuttal to Mrs. Jacobs. When my time machine is finished I’ll go back and tell her and the other kids in my class that there are different kinds of Artists, but we all must create. We are human and the life we lead is our most precious creation. This is more than our privilege, it is our obligation to the cosmos. To exist is to be indebted to honoring your truest existence. Your genius defined as the ‘attendant spirit present from one’s birth’ only exists in you.
Self actualizing as the creator of our own life seems simple. Though in the grandiosity of the human system it is a radical act. Radically awesome, yes, but also radical in a political socioeconomic sense. Society tells us how to move through life, milestones of importance, and accomplishments laid out like ticker tape. This is one viable way, though the epidemic of depression in modernized cultures is telling that checking all the boxes does not guarantee anything. Businesses fail, loved ones leave too soon, and all you have built can wash away in an instant. There is no certainty that following suit to society will make a happy and fulfilling life.
Alternatively we can dig in and retrieve thoughts that are authentic, true, and our own. Otherwise society will make decisions for us. There are so many tracks to walk, many you can do half asleep, hanging from the the proper points of contact. There are pathways with bumpers like a bowling lane, that guarantee A then B will land you at C.
This worries me, the ‘jesus take the wheel’ mentality. It is your wheel, my friends, take your life and live it.