Imagine being an artist in Nazi Germany in the 1940’s.
A Jewish singer.
A gay ballet dancer.
Imagine being an actor in North Korea today. Or a performance artist in Syria.
Now imagine not being able to do what you love.
Throughout history, the artist has been considered subversive. Especially to dictatorships and regimes hostile to free-thinking individuals.
Why is that?
Well the artist ”“ through his work ”“ represents truth and beauty. That can be very scary to a despot who rules his country with an iron fist. To allow people to voice opinions contrary to the establishment is a subversive act.
To get people to think about themselves in terms of love, possibility, hope. To encourage people to think differently, to expand their beliefs, to question things they have been taught. Those are powerful acts. This makes art purposeful. It empowers us.
Our lives here are blessed. We don’t really worry about censorship or not finding ways to create. If we don’t like where we live, we move to NY or LA to be surrounded by like-minded artists.
But we often allow the rejections of the business to suppress our own uniqueness. We personalize defeats. We listen to what the “experts” say not realizing that most people operate with agendas. We acquiesce our power to the “perceived” establishment, and give up because someone says, “You’ll never make it.”
We oppress ourselves. We criticize ourselves and tell ourselves we can’t do something. We compare ourselves to the “filtered” Instagrammed pictures of everyone’s happy lives. We’ll always defeat ourselves if that’s the measurement, because we’re comparing ourselves to illusions.
It can make you want to throw in the towel! Or take long naps.
In my 20’s I’d take long-ass naps (like for days!) not realizing I was depressed because I didn’t think I had any power. I’d give it all away to people who had opinions about me and my art, rather than making up my own mind. It always left me feeling undervalued and without any kind of creative power to do what I wanted. It was as if I was constantly asking permission from someone else to be acknowledged. But because they never acknowledged me (through a job offer or a booking or acceptance) I felt powerless and had to sleep.
Now look. Naps are wonderful. On a couch. A cushy chair. Your comfy bed. Cozying up with your cat. Hell, even in your car or on a carpeted floor can work in a pinch. They’re reinvigorating and replenishing and science proves that they are actually good for us. But a 20-minute power nap to re-energize is not the same as a 3-hour Xanax-fuelled shutting-out-life, refusing to acknowledge your creative life force is being stymied. That’s different.
Change the paradigm. The way you see the world is your art. You don’t need someone else to validate that or even see it your way. Just win back your power by accepting that you have some and that you won’t oppress yourself any longer. You’re not a loser or untalented or stupid. Let your inner subversive artist out. Your ego will want to continue to be a dictator and squash your creative voice. It will come up with all kinds of ways to do that. Cruelly. And also sweetly ”“ like offering you to take a 10-day nap.
Wake up. Realize you have something to say. Now go say it. Be it. Do it. Allow your art to speak for the thousands of people in the world who truly can’t. That then, becomes an act of truth and beauty.