Monday, October 1, 2012

Good Morning Jacob

Letter to my Son
16 September, Sunday

Well how are you?  I certainly hope life for you is going far better than all reasonable expectation.  And then some.  Had I a magical incantation to pass along health and happiness, I would certainly make my wish true for you and your family.  May it all be so. 

I remember our last conversation.  You were a fan of Ratchet and Clank at the time.  Thinking of all the wonderful things you had done with your art and your story-telling I told you I thought you were an artist.  It was a conclusion I had made long ago.  I have always been so impressed with you as a person. 

I remember trying to say what I felt.  I wanted to tell you that being an artist is a wonderful gift.  I wanted to tell you that being an artist isn’t about wearing a painter’s smock or about necessarily being talented in any one particular skill.  Sure, those are all things one exhibits that give others the impression of someone being artistic.  To me, though, being an artist is more a feeling – a response to the world around you, a response to people and life.  It’s about naturally seeing past the clutter and carnival distractions to touch life itself.  It’s a hard as granite sensitivity to your emerging soul and a prickling awareness of a gentle, subversive undercurrent that exists within all you know.  This is true but enough of that.  Let’s just say, no one has to remind you to stop and smell the roses.  They are more likely telling you to move along.

You are an artist.  It is not something you choose to be.  It is bestowed upon you.  It sounds great, doesn’t it?  It is.  Remember, though, there is a price for everything.  Living so close to one’s feelings can be both captivating and treacherous.  Artists can quickly be brought to tears with joy but they also have the bitter tendency of throwing themselves on the rocks.  The latter choice definitely isn’t good.  It’s striking the tent and lowering the curtain before the play is over.  We need to always choose life and finish our play no matter how we may feel at any one moment.  Well before our memories took form we all signed a solemn vow to carry through with our natural course of biological life.  That is easy enough to do when life is like swimming in a beautiful pool on a splendid day.  We certainly know this isn’t always the case.  We endure frequent paper cuts, and more.  We sometimes get kicked in the shin.  On occasion we tumble down the hill like Jack and Jill and spill our precious pale of water.  Sometimes we are brutal to others and our memories frequently remind us of our failings.  Guess what?  All these nasty events are part of the script in becoming a full, rounded person… a real artist.  You can’t avoid it. 

Why?  Why does life treat me this way?  Because you have great strength.  You dare to feel but you remain also a great fortress strong with purpose and resolve.  You would never know of this fact were you left only to chase butterflies through the meadow each day.  Were you only to know the happiness of eating Cheerios and cherries for breakfast each morning then you wouldn’t have much to contribute to aid others seeking their own life’s quest, would you?  People need a message of restoration.  They busy themselves in the act of building bridges, building families, piecing together their dreams.  It can be exhausting.  We can become sterile from our exertions.  We need to recapture our soul or risk losing our lighted path and, instead, stumble into the grey marsh of slavish deeds without purpose.  We need the artist’s touch to, once again, lift our eyes.  At this point it is useless to say, everything is fine and dandy.  We want to know truth.  How do you give us truth?  How do you help us to find our way free from the bog?  You can’t… if you haven’t visited this godforsaken place yourself.  You can’t, if you haven’t learned from your own inner light how to illuminate the human path.  Life must test you in order for you to find your strength, your light, your message.  It will come when you persist and you don’t bring down the curtain. 

Just don’t get carried away when it comes.  The light you find may be no more than a sprig.  It will have to do.  Make the most of it.  Search your surroundings with it.  See with your eyes.  Feel with your hands.  Think with your mind.  Know with your heart.  Contribute.  Give what you come to know.  Lift the curtain.  It is your responsibility to speak what you mean and show what you feel.  A few artists receive great acclaim in their lifetime and are lavished with material rewards.  That’s nice.  They suffer for it.  You’re truest reward remains always deeply personal.  It feeds your source of humanity, the source of your inspiration.  All else is mesmerize and trinkets.

This is my thought.  Live your life.  Find your thought.  Pass it along freely.  Be the artist I know you are and be grateful for it.  It is the gift received by you when you were given life.

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