People tend to focus too much on the things they don’t have. Artists, especially, worry about the latest paint they haven’t tried, that new sound set they don’t yet have, the special type of musical instrument not (so far) in their possession, which new piece of software they really need to do what they imagine and so on. In fact, there is a whole industry that feeds off this feeling that, with just one more purchase, or just the right artistic ingredient, then the magic will be unleashed. The magic is unleashed anyway, whether or not you have everything you think you need. Art is like that.
If you were honest, as an artist, you would have to acknowledge that just being an artist fills your life with accidental, unexpected, magical moments. Things happen to you that don’t happen to other people. You enjoy successes and endure failures that make you a better artist. Those highs and lows are unique to you. Your life consists almost entirely of discoveries, mysteries, camaraderie, gentle competition, fellowship, good natured rivalry, triumphs, defeats, courage, doubts, explorations, bafflements, experiments, reliable methods of your own devising, techniques you can never quite master, notions, innovations, imagination, concepts, abstractions, fulfilling surprises, agonising expectations, adulation, appreciation, gratitude and humility. That’s quite a magical life.
It also has to be said that the life of an artist is seldom anything other than interesting. You find yourself in situations and places, presented with opportunities and enjoying special privileges that non-artists will never know. You gain access to places that others rarely go and see things and hear things with heightened, finely-tuned senses that, in others, have become dulled with lack of use and inexperience. You have had the opportunity to feel more, with vivid lucidity, than most other people do.
If you were truthful, when you looked back at all you have experienced and achieved, as an artist, you would acknowledge the rich, fascinating, astounding, astonishing, purely magical moments that have come to you, simply because you chose to pursue your art. It wasn’t a waste of time.
Granted, that might have meant you spent all your time and money on self-development, tools, education, materials and so on, instead of investing in real estate. With the way the world economy has been, for the past four decades, you will definitely have become materially poorer than somebody that bet everything on their house and property, but your soul would have to be vastly enriched, compared to somebody that bought their box and sat in it, waiting for it to appreciate. You have had a fuller, more adventurous, freer, more experimental life than somebody that merely speculated and did little else.
There may have been people in your life that shunned you, for your peculiar, artistic mania. They may have rejected you, as a person, or because you looked like you would be a hopeless provider and taken a different path in life. At first, that might have hurt. You may have felt the abandonment acutely. You might even have regretted missing out on spending more of your time with them. But here is the thing. For all that you felt you lost, imagine how much those people missed, by not spending more time with you.
You have been an artist. You have intrepidly explored the furthest reaches of aesthetic sensibility. Your emotional life has been filled with colours and timbres and harmony and thoughts and ideas. You were free to make whatever you wanted to make, however you wanted to make it. You were able to say what you felt and state what you meant, using your artistic skills to articulate it, with clarity and emotional power. Meanwhile, there were the occasional moments when people “got” you completely and in those moments, you felt as though somebody was closer to understanding the authentic essence of yourself than ever before. How can you not feel satisfaction at the magic of that?
People that shunned you, in earlier life, missed all of that. Your potent magic did not touch them at all. Their distance and remoteness from you made it impossible. Refusing to connect with you meant they lost everything that a connection with you would have brought them. They existed without the amazement and wonder that just witnessing your artistic journey could have given them. And they also lost their chance to participate in it all.
They missed the magic completely and it’s their loss. It’s a huge loss.
Be careful not to miss appreciating the magic in your own life.