One thing about finding the passage back to the place I was before: it’s made me very tired.
Traveling is exhilarating, but it usually shreds your creative schedule. On the other hand, you’re feeding your mind, your heart, your soul with an overabundance of newness or—if you’re lucky—strangeness. The flood of sights sounds smells feelings ideas isn’t just intoxicating, it’s positively hangover-inducing. Once drunk on the new stuff, the return to home feels like the morning after.
It is worth it, though. Changing your point of view by completely changing your location has always been a fantastic source of new material, new blood, almost.
You awaken exhausted but renewed, disoriented but with a pack of vibrant memories. It all needs to be sorted through and labeled, but you can feel it: you’re changed, there’s more of you than there was before.
Update on yesterday’s post waxing rhapsodic about the respect for public art here in Portland. It’s not a repudiation of that stance, but there are some rectifying observations I should make.
Art isn’t perfect. Writing, music, dance, the same. What we’re told, what we tell others, can and maybe should be subject to a kind of scientific method: if new information comes to light, the thing you said yesterday will be modified in its light.
And looking at the same thing from different perspectives can lead us closer to the truth. Whatever that is.
And so I noticed things aren’t pristine. But public art places itself in the world, exposed. It makes itself vulnerable. It’s open to change, from the elements, if nothing else. I’m left with more questions than answers.
Do the things we make and put into the world belong to us, or to everyone? The people who buy it—is it theirs to do with as they wish, or do they have an obligation as caretaker until whomever they sell it to takes over? If it’s sold as copies, does it belong to anyone at all?
If art is public, is it an object? Or is it a new piece of its environment?
The end of any journey comes with mixed feelings. Ask Joseph Campbell. It also comes with new knowledge. We’ve learned things about our companions we never knew, maybe good things, maybe not, but more. If we’re lucky, we know ourselves better.
Mentally, we’re abuzz with information and ideas and experience to process. Emotionally and physically, we’re drained. This internal tussle can leave us befuddled and even quiet. We reflect. We look at our familiar things with new eyes.
Apply these things to the artist’s journey, making a new piece. I’m kinda too tired to do it.
Almost 50 years ago, Blood, Sweat & Tears released a song about how culture goes in cycles like a wheel, swinging left to right and back again. It’s natural to feel stuck, sometimes. It’s harder to know at those dark moments that I won’t be there forever. It’s a big picture perspective that serves me well, when I can remember it.
Another idea I’ve tried to keep in mind is that of Taoist or Zen balance, that what may seem good or bad or fortunate or tragic today can easily become the opposite tomorrow. So it isn’t worth the emotional capital it takes to dwell too intensely on any particular event in our lives.
Of course, we’re only human, and not very good at a wide or long perspective on existence. It’s easy to become roiled by life, politics, and customers.
We need these little reminders that life is never on rails, nor traveling in one direction, forever.
About the Author
Marcus is a maker of things and thoughts. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon.