My last posts have talked about me discovering – emotionally I mean, not intellectually – what I see as the beautiful sides of life. They involve colours and music and words which engage and entrance and dance, and sometimes shock too; but all the same, things said and done in what I might judge a decently good faith.
And I know this is a rather big about-face on my part. I spent eight years writing myself into the ground; six months prior to that period, around the time of Iraq, destroying the vestiges of a hope and love of life I had struggled to maintain most of my life.
But about-faces are made to be made at any time.
And this is the time I maintain I must make mine.
And there are people out there who – tongue in cheek – are suggesting I might be an artist, when what they mean I guess is piss artist.
And there are people out there who – when confronted gently, as I try to do, with the question I ask about their motivations re my being – roundly reject any part or thoughts or previous actions on their part.
And I don’t know whether to believe them or not.
But what I do know is that if I am to continue in a happy frame of mind, then clearly writing about good and positive things – and taking and making photos of joyous images and scenes – is what I need to do.
Can I pay for it? Not at the moment.
But I’d prefer to find a way of making beauty pay – a beauty which serves to uplift or amuse or shock one out of one’s complacent acceptance of and/or resignation to life’s assumed servitude – than strive to spend the rest of my life trying to make the reporting and transmission of tragedy my mission.
When I hunt down my dark side and try and communicate this, I am miserable, close to existential despair and of no use to any human soul.
When I look, however, to create the symmetry of joy, I become joyous myself. Does this, as a result, turn me into a simpleton of common process and activity? Well. I have to tell you two stories I was told today – very similar, in the end, in their weight and lesson.
One was told by I think the manager of the Starbucks I had an early piccino in.
I showed him the photo above, and he was politely appreciative. And then he showed me photos of wonderful pics – both of real-life landscapes and of blackboards he’d created and drawn up in Canadian Starbucks – which led me to understand a little bit around the truth of the connected society we are feeling our way towards, and growing up in: in a sense, every person who ever did take a smartphone with cool camera and editing software is an artist. And not a piss artist at all: just, plainly, this: an artist able to do things previous centuries of maestr@s never did dream of.
The second story – of a similar bent – was told to me by a waiter (maybe a manager, again) at Carluccio’s, where I had a lovely set menu today.
He explained how he shared an interest in photography: he would go to a local forest in his free time and take black & white photographs using macro lenses of the nature and objects he stumbled across.
He didn’t even have an Instagram. He did it because it made him feel good.
And I realised again the degree to which my own pretensions were maybe pretentious.
And then I realised the good fortune I had to be born into a time where such a plenitude of technology, astonishing ability and sheer human spunk had arrived at some kind of horizon of beautiful example.
I wasn’t considering myself an artist in any kind of isolation: I was part of a mass movement of amateur artistic endeavour: amateur only because monetisation didn’t exist but never, never, because the level of quality of works thus exhibited in any way missed their mark (and when I say exhibited, I include those kept close to the chest just as much!).
If I am to be artist of a beauty as described above because such beauty finally makes me happy and whole, I need either to get an honourable job as these two gentlemen of such gentle arts have agreed to do – or work out some way of being one of the terribly fortunate few on this rock who actually gets paid to do what makes them so damn well.
I’d far prefer the latter – but I’m sure these two fine people would as well.
And so would a legion of millions – and maybe billions.
What makes me different, then?
What would give me the right over them?
Is it simply a persistence of purpose? Is that what, now, I need to be able to demonstrate?