I’m sorry, but I have some very bad news for you. This is news that most people, myself included, are prone to go into stubborn, pig-headed, fear-driven denial about, but none of the hiding of head in sand changes the facts. There is no alternative other than to take this news on board and take the rational next step.
The news is this: there are certain situations that you will encounter, both as an artist and as a human being that you will simply have to face and deal with. Dealing with many of these situations means going against tradition, your upbringing, everything you were told, everything you believe, everything your society tells you to believe, everything you want to be true and facing every emotional confrontation you never wished to have with yourself. There really is no alternative, though. If you don’t face up to it, you’ll stagnate, or worse – things will go to hell, due to your inaction.
There are countless situations like this. Sometimes it’s the loss of one’s health. At other times, one’s living circumstances change drastically. In artistic practice, it might mean facing up to some uncomfortable things about your art, or the business you have created around your art. As a human being, it might be facing the fact that all the things we want for ourselves spell the destruction of the planet and death for all of us. You might have to give up on illusions and fantasies, like endless economic growth, expanding geometrically, or finally accept that leaders won’t get us out of the mess. We can’t stay passive and there is no such thing as an innocent bystander.
Everybody would rather stay inside a daydream, or avoid the unavoidable conclusions. We would rather fiddle, while Rome burns, than try to put out the fires. We prefer our comfortable fictions to uncomfortable realities. In short, we’d rather go on doing something stupid and self-destructive, than take on the task of overturning everything we’ve built up and stopping the doomsday mechanisms of our own making.
The problem is, when crunch time comes, you only get one chance to face it and deal with it. If you don’t do that, when you have to, you’ll blow it. Permanently. No way back.
You’ll know when you’re at the crossroads, because your procrastination and denial activities, which intuitively take over, will be working at full speed. You will know that you are doing everything other than facing the thing and dealing with it.
Given that there is no choice, then there is only one possible, viable next step. You have to face it. You must. When you face it, the way you deal with it becomes clear.
As people and as a species, there is a long list of things we are failing to face and deal with. Sometimes, we think that doing more of what already hasn’t worked will provide the solution. We know that to be nonsense. We know, intuitively, that a creative, revolutionary idea is all that can possibly work. Adhering to the old solutions that have not solved the problems we must face is just another form of denial and procrastination. We know that won’t work. Yet we cling to it.
So the question remains: If we have to face it, will we face it?
If so, when? Will that be in time?