We exist for posterity, we exist for the eyes of a lonely child or some distant figure that we will never be graced with our presence. Our lives must be lived through our art; I believe, this approach allows for a constant transformation and reconfiguration of our consciousness against the ever impeding insanity that a repressed life brings. Our becoming is an act of creation, like the succession of Kings adding to the Palace of Versailles, as we attempt daily and hourly to attain balance; however, in order to become against the blue demons that haunt our doors we must develop a place of sacredness, an alter. A place to listen for direction and guidance as we welcome visitors into a confrontation with the ambiguities of existence; within the walls of silence we examine conformity, loneliness, create new definitions for gentleness, learn to rest, and redefine the principle James Baldwin Exalted as the meaning of human existence–love. Refining, re-defining, and preserving our souls require a space of intimate communion with the eternal.
Every artist, human being, has some idea of the possible resolution for the social, sexual, racial, and political conflict haunting our time, as every time has been haunted; James Baldwin, a man that believed in extreme vulnerability and being a witness for the times, expressed the resolution as a radical love. As Jimmy laid down his burden, defined the conditions and resolved to solve our emotion, spiritual, and physical ambiguities through a celebration and, almost, deification of love, I seek to express the difficulty with loving, the complexity of being an artist, the ambiguities in our suffering.
Most people find it extraordinarily challenge to open their hearts, love being the most difficult endeavor to undertake; the search for ourselves reveal what has our hearts, as my own life has been a dance between a fascination with love, and complete renunciation of everything that comes with loving anyone. Love has become a moment of sacred communion rather than a vow of commitment; although, being in love has never been a claim of mine, an appreciation of the moments I’ve shared with people has shaped my character more than labels on my bonds with people. Bell Hooks, in her excellent work “All about Love“, defines love as “a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust.” The moments that I valued the most captured those words entirely, and while I would leave the relationship feeling empty, alone, and undervalued reflecting on these moments in the relationship provided a framework to discover my love language. Coming from spaces that offered almost unnoticeable examples of love, and silence, resentment, and fear were more frequent than laughter, kissing, subtle touches in the kitchen, or smiling at the sight of each other the ability to peel back the soul and expose the entirety of our spirit results in a lot of stumbling ignorantly between discovery of our desires. Many people place the potential of love outside of themselves, hoping to be rescued by Jesus, another person, a bottle, but the artist often places his heart in a artful rendition of his internal conundrum; this rendition, however, contains all of Bell Hooks components of love as a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust as we immerse our soul into the silence of painting, or the rhythmic tapping of the letters on the keyboard. Love is found in the distance we are willing to travel for ourselves.
Loving anyone or anything becomes impossible when the past–everything we resent and are ashamed of–impedes of our consciousness, when we contain illusory ideas of Edenic happiness, or we lust for greener grass; “Love is where you find it” becomes a phrase dedicated to patience, and resilience once it’s viewed as saying we have found fertile ground on where to place our hearts. The anxiety of loving anything– a person, a fish, a business– can become paralyzing, but, I believe, we have to equip our hearts through a cycle of letting go and receiving, forgiving and boundary setting, commitment and giving grace. As we love against a background of conformism, failures, lies, mistakes, and heartbreak we need to have the strength and vulnerability to embrace another person; a world fetishizing suffering, equating hard work to the quality of the spirit, and defining masculinity and femininity through dogmatic Victorian standards produces the feelings of inadequacy looming over the generation. We must ask, where does love began and dependency end? What does it mean to heal? What does happiness mean? Does art heal the heart? These are the questions every artist faces and attempts to answer through his/her particular medium, but I am beginning to believe that stillness is the answers to these questions; revelatory in the response to our obsessive comparison allowing our spirits to rest in the uniqueness of our being. I often think about my grandmother, my grandfather, my mother, and especially my father when my anxiety is most rampant, and I question did they have a space of stillness, a space for deliverance. While at my alter I have accepted life as a void requiring confrontation with the existential facts of life their salvation was found in the gathering of men and women in holy communion, revivals, and being a sheep in the flock of God; I praise them for their faith, for I have learned we are all trying to make it through the day.
In order to be an example for the people coming after us we must create a space of confrontation and acceptance; whether an alter, at the knees of the pastor, or underneath the moon pain is not to be fetishized, and the dive into our emotional ambiguities must be gentle. Everyone contains the same complexity, the same loneliness, the same desire for connection, and hope for a change from those feelings, but through an acceptance of our totality, I believe, we can close the distance between us and the people around us. Then we become artists; this path to freedom can be found through a paintbrush, a keyboard, the choir, or the pen, but acceptance and healing is the goal.