Friday, September 26, 2008

The Resurrection of Something

The end of JRL was, I think, the beginning of my sabbatical from the Arts Mountain (that part of culture that really is, primarily about making something creative, powerful, beautiful, different, relevant, inexplicable (and only secondarily about other things -- making money, religion, education, values, protest, etc)). I've remained active on other "mountains" -- business, education, church. I've even done some creative things there, but I've been away from the Arts Mountain and the music world.

And all sorts of stuff has come out of me while I've traveled: Frustration, disappointment, weaknesses, patterns that need changing, needs that have been ignored, etc.

I've been questioning. Am I really called to the arts mountain? Do I have what it takes? Am I deluded? Why haven't I gotten farther than I have? Is the call real? What is that call exactly?

Somewhere during all this I've begun to listen to music again and explore new stuff. I haven't done that for a long, long time. Yellowman. The Black Keys. The White Stripes. Stars, Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, Band of Horses, Bon Iver, TV on the Radio.

What do I write if I have no parameters? (One of my highlights during the Greenhouse Project arts internship was to see what came out when people wrote with very few parameters).

I think I may be coming past the heart of the desert now. It feels like there may be life on the other side. I may be called to climb the arts mountain. My dreams may be a gift, seeds from God's garden. I may have something to give that's needed in the music world, on the arts mountain. It may matter if I quit this part of the race. I may make it over this plateau where I've been stuck. I may flourish. I may live and not die. Who knows?


rfuq said...

It's funny how we never think of what we do as mattering. Not that this sentiment is at the heart of what you are saying. It sounds like you believe that what you might create really does, or at least may matter. I think that's a big part of what keeps the modern day aspiring artist down.

It seems selfish for us to make sacrifices to hone our art or to set aside valuable time to create. Maybe because it's so gratifying. It feels like we're masturbating--that is just pleasing ourselves in a narcissistic way with our art. It feels hollow and guilty sometimes, but if we are honest, it makes our heart come alive, and the guilt probably comes from the pleasure we feel.

We feel close to God when we create because we are partaking in something that is uniquely "Him". We come alongside him in these tendencies and reflect back to him who He is and that is what life is all about. I mean, that's kind of why we're here, isn't it? Isn't reflecting back to God the things about Him that He put in us sort of at the center (or at least in one of the very initial orbits around the center) of relating to him?

I don't like the idea of being useless. The desire to strive to be a blessing to those around us is good. It's worthwhile, but it's not the meaning of life. If it is, the Lutherans have it and we should drop everything we are doing and join them (nothing against Lutherans. There are some areas of the denomination where they have it together in a real way,). And if He did create us to do something, shouldn't we feel more of an obligation to do that than something else? And if He did create us to do something (I know I said that already but I needed it again), wouldn't it make sense that it would be the thing that makes our heart come alive?

Anyway, way to go for not allowing that pleasure you feel from creating to impose on your creating. It is important to do what you do, and it does matter. If it didn't, you would get the same feeling from loading boxes. Kudos for pressing on.

Joel said...

This is just one (hugely significant) reason I like having you around, Ryon. It's a bit of a tangent, but worth exploring.

IMO, sex is the perfect metaphor for our artistic calling. Yes, it can be onanistic, but it doesn't have to be and the occasional onanistic digression is evidence rather in favor of than opposed to the possibility of truly fruitful engagement. More importantly, we don't have to be afraid of pleasure, the ecstatic joy of it. It is ineffable. It is a mystical union.

I think we still carry a boatload of pseudo-puritanical (maybe neo-victorian is better; in any case, I think the Puritans get a bad rap and I'm of the opinion that, for all of our adolescent self-indulgence, we're a ton more repressed than they) inhibition and unholy, ungodly guilt. And it stultifies our worship, our art and our sex lives--which, personal theory, are (or should be) probably closer in identity to each other than they are to anything else.

There's so much that should be explored and understood in that shared identity--about faithfulness and focus and partnership and, yes, about pleasure and how and for what we are designed.

Or maybe I'm just a lecherous heretic.

amberdkb said...


You're right on with highlighting the boatload of unholy guilt we all drag around....

Thanks for writing about a tough subject and then turning it into humor on the turn of a dime.

No lecherous heretics in the room, I believe.