Art Is Not Enough. You Must Live.

I want to be a writer.

I am a writer.

But still that is no reason not to live.


I am sitting in my living room. The sun again denied by fastened blinds, and the faint tick of the wall clock is an ignored metronome to the sporadic taps of my fingers on the keys. The glow of the computer screen is my only light, and an old Ethiopian friend called Coffee is my comfort. In the confines of silent isolation, this scenerio may seem to be fertile soil for the creative concocting of words and ideas, but it is not. Instead, it is a stagnant pond bearing a thick film of mildew and filth. There is no reflection, and words cannot flow.

Creativity is a reflection of life, and in order to be productive as an artist, I must be willing to live, to experience, to adventure. I must savor life in order to reflect it. Too often, the activity, the bravery, and the extroverted nature required to live life to the fullest is unnatural to those gifted with the skills of an artist. Our comfort zone is in our own heads and the 1600 square-foot fortress we call home. But we, the artists of the world, should be grasping onto life and squeezing it for all its worth.

To reflect life as an artist is a liberating concept. 

First of all, it means that creativity does not come from within. It cannot be the sole responsibility of the artist to conjure up masterpieces from a dark soul. Creativity, instead, comes from without. It is a mere reflection of life. It is not ourselves or our work that matters most but our unique response to a beautifully broken world.

Secondly, if the artist’s call and responsibility is to reflect life, then we have license to embrace adventure, immerse ourselves in experience, and view the world as a thrilling opportunity for creative response. We should not be in hiding but actively living rich and full lives.

So, dear fellow artists,

live,

reflect,

create.

And remember:

A stagnant pond muddies its surface, but a fountain flowing never dries up.


Photo by Nikolay Maslov on Unsplash