As an artist, I have been prone (since childhood) to long boughts of daydreaming. Sometimes they come in the most unexpected instances; I’m just minding my own business when, WHAM!, my mind goes off on its own, to wander about other landscapes and worlds. I’m accustomed to it; it’s a part of who I am.
But over the past few years, I’ve noticed a slight shift in those daydreams. Every so often, the dreams are replaced by a vast emptiness. I find myself staring out into the infinite void, not thinking or envisioning anything; there’s just a calm sense of nothingness.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately, wondering if there’s something askew in my thought meat. Over the past few days, the conclusion being drawn within is not quite cause to be alarmed, nor is it something to be completely ignored.
What I am about to say could make you roll your eyes so hard they might well stick. You’ve been warned.
I’ve started to wonder if it is wholly possible that the artistic being inside of me has opted to, on occasion, disassociate itself from reality–just detach away from the tether of this existence, hoping to find some other realm more in tune with its needs or desires.
Work with me here.
Consider this; the artist never truly acclimates into the real world. We live in our own little realities, often times to the tune of nearly gracing the presences of madness. And the deeper we dive into our work, the farther from reality we move. I have had instances where I’ve been in a situation and had to wonder if what I’d just experienced was reality or something I had previously written or currently am writing. When I pull out of that spiraling funk it can sometimes be jarring, sometimes saddening. Regardless of the outcome, I understand, fully, that I was elsewhere.
Back in undergraduate school, a dear friend of mine used to call that my “visiting Alaska”. We joked about it, because we could-we were in school and rarely, if ever, lived within reality’s grasp. Now? I’m an adult (well, according to my driver’s license I am). Under normal circumstances, one might think this type of behavior an irresponsible way to exist. Daydreaming at work? Imagine the micro manager nightmare that would cause. Fortunately, I am a full-time writer, so I am have the luxury of disassociating whenever I want (or, rather, whenever that artistic child within me opts to check out).
In our current climate, that artistic child has been having a bit of a harder time. Within the realm of literature, it’s growing harder and harder to even remotely make a living as an artist. According to TechCrunch (an article that is a bit out of date, but still relevant), a new book is added to Amazon every 5 minutes. That equates to pretty much every author getting buried under a flood of words to ensure readers have a harder and harder time finding you. Every author I know is suffering under the weight of this deluge. For some, it’s no big thing. For others, who have to deal with their child-like inner artist, it can be trying. And yet, we persist. When the dissociation happens, it’s just a matter of allowing that soul to search out for whatever answers it seeks and hope like hell it’ll share when it returns. Rarely does it-at least not on a conscious level. If it did, I might have all the answers to all the questions. I don’t.
I cherish my artist soul-quirks and all. I wouldn’t be me without it. And even though it does often give me pause (for many a reason), I know, all too well, what life is like without it.
Hint: Not life.
For every artist out there, who find themselves more and more often slipping away from reality, know you’re not alone. The world in which we currently live was not made for the stuff of artistic souls. You must, however, take it upon yourself to remember that the world needs us, needs art and artists. What we do serves to heal the human soul. Even though you may be tempted to give up the artistic ghost, you mustn’t. Let your mind wander into the realms of the fantastic or the nothing, as often as it needs. Give it wing to play as often as necessary. Hopefully our inner children rush away from our corporeal bodies to enjoy a recess with one another. Maybe they play a rousing game of dodge ball or kick the can. And, this is very important, so listen well…when they return, be open to their secrets.