One of my favorite Bob Dylan quotes goes something like this;
"I'm just a song a dance man."
Coming from one of the most revered and long-lived musician/lyricist/activist/poets around, this is a fun statement. And like most good poetry it is both true and not true at the same time, depending on what level you look at it. Allow James Moore explain:
"Scrape away the veneer and what's left is a guy madly in love with the art of musical performance, someone who, for better or worse, till death do its part, is both master and slave to the creative process itself."
So on one level it's true, he is a song and dance man. Especially important for those who want to immortalize and worship him to understand. He's not the messiah.
On the other hand he's much more than that -- and his work is profoundly satisfying and disturbing, helping you face reality and shining light on our hiding places, reminding us how much meaning there can be, how much sorrow and joy in a simple song and dance.
What does this have to do with anything, you may be wondering? Well, part of what I'm working at in my own life and work (both as a songwriter and a leader in the Dandelion Seed Company artist network) is digging through the underbrush and the topsoil to find the bedrock I can really build my life and my work as an artist on. If it's not fame or money or being true to myself, what is it?
I think Dylan's quote is a nod in the right direction. One of my first and deepest foundations for my life and journey as an artist is simply this:
That art and creativity, the song and dance, are good things. They are a gift from God, they make life richer. Yes, they can do so much more -- move people, make them think, draw them closer to God, teach something -- all that is true, but without the foundation of them being good in and of themselves, being a gift from God, it is SO VERY DIFFICULT to really live out the calling or make the journey we are called to make as artists.
Imagine if you only saw your child in terms of the value he or she could add to your or someone elses' life -- you would be hamstrung as a parent from the start in being able to help them become the gift they could be to others, and yes, to you yourself. Something very similar applies to the arts in general and more specifically to those who are called to an arts-related vocation.