Today, someone, somewhere, will give up on their art. They’ll put their brushes down for the last time, put their guitar back into its case for good, or turn the potter’s wheel off and never return to it, ever again.
Who knows why? Perhaps finding the time, place or money for it just isn’t possible anymore. Or worth the effort. Maybe the joy is absent and the thrill is gone. They might have finally concluded that nobody is listening, watching, buying, appreciating or encouraging. Perhaps they have come to believe that they’re no good at it. Whatever the reason, they’ve come to the end of their endurance, courage and heart and they are packing it away. Putting it to bed. For good.
If their art has always been in the intended service of making the world a kinder, happier, more equitable, more beautiful place, maybe the tide of sheer nastiness and ignorance has finally overwhelmed them. Maybe they can’t cut through and make people believe their truth, no matter how passionately and tenaciously they tell it, the people preferring, as they do, to believe tissue thin, but pretty lies instead. It could be that they feel the numbers are against them. So many people willing to revel in an sustained, incessant orgy of selfishness, greed, violence, hatred, bigotry and intolerance, that they don’t think their art, alone, can turn the tide. Maybe they think their art is powerless, against such an overwhelming onslaught.
For the longest time, they may have been placing their artistic pearls before utter swine, while finding nobody else to put their pearls before. It could be that nobody in their immediate circle has the ability or will to appreciate the quality of their work. The despairing artist might have begun to believe that everybody else is so much better, that their work is derivative and trite and that their gifts are not sufficient. Maybe all the hard work hasn’t paid off.
We could suppose that their progress was glacial, compared to how much they wanted to learn, or as fast as they wanted it to be. Perhaps they couldn’t even give their art away, let alone sell it for money. It might be that they simply became too tired to carry on. There might have been jealousies, creative differences, resentments, derision, criticism, judgemental discouragement, denigration or ridicule.
There are millions of reasons why somebody, somewhere, might have given up on their art today.
Just another day.
I think that’s sad. It’s a commonplace to suggest that if, as an artist, you begin to feel the waters lapping at your chin, as you lose your buoyancy and no longer have the strength to struggle to tread water that you should respond by making better art. We might all know that, intuitively, but if you’re really at the very end of your tether, the advice doesn’t help much. You’re out of juice.
What I can tell you is that we aren’t designed to operate like computers: always on, always at it, constantly productive and increasingly so with each passing minute, hour, day, year of our dwindling life on Earth. We’re meant to pulse. We are evolved to have moments of extreme flourishing of creativity, but that has to be balanced with recreation and recovery time, where you do nothing other than relax, let your thoughts wander and sleep. Maybe that’s all you need.
So if you ever face the decision to put your paints away for good, give your piano away, stop writing those poems and unfinished novels, or quit song writing or singing, don’t make it forever. Make it just for now. Let yourself recover. Maybe you’ll find renewed inspiration and enthusiasm for your creative channel another day. Who knows when that day might be, but please don’t decide that it’s “never”. We’re all the poorer, if you give up for good.
If you feel yourself slowly slipping, silently, beneath the waves…keep your head up. And breathe.