I’ve learned in my life that there are many ways to live it. Some of us wonder why we are even here. Some think they know. Most of humanity feels stuck in the very “system” that humanity itself created. For themselves.
Nobody is making us do things the way we do. But for some reason, the human race has chosen to live in anger, sadness and despair. Hopelessness. Some refuse to acknowledge the feelings and situations that are meant to transform them. Some mask it in controlling others, by telling them what to feel, what they should think, what they should do in their lives. Some mask it in addiction and substance abuse. Some are completely unable to be alone at all. It’s painful to look at personal issues that we can just as easily drown out by never spending a moment alone.
But, really that’s the very thing they should be doing, is turning the focus on themselves and fixing the very things that they criticize others about.
One of the things I’ve learned in my life as an artist, is there is thousands of people who look to art as a means to express themselves. Some people think artists need to conform to a “norm”.
That’s not what art is for.
“Norms” are for people who are too scared to hold themselves accountable to living an authentic life, being true to who they really are. Art is for the bold and the daring. The people who are willing to walk away from what’s “safe” and “acceptable”. People who don’t want to see that, are certainly free to go elsewhere. They do have a choice.
But for some reason, critics of art have a perverse need to control the situation. To make people “see” the error of their ways and completely change their whole way of living and being to suit the critic.
Artists, I’m imploring you to remember this, and critics take this to heart:
Artists are here to inspire you, not to take care of you.
Yes, we are inter-connected. But not interdependent. There’s room for everyone, but only you make your own success. Nobody can do that for you. Yet our society has apparently bred a sense of entitlement, that somehow people owe us something. They don’t.
This dependence on external people to make us happy, to fulfill us, to carry the weight of a life that is not theirs, has caused unrealistic and unfair expectations and doesn’t allow people to fully be themselves and grow.
We all have that instinct that wants to “fix” things. But we can’t “fix” anybody. They are who they are. You can either choose to accept that or choose not to. That’s up to you. But you can’t make them be someone that suits what you need in life. That’s not their job. That’s yours.
We’ve defined “help” by doing things for people instead of inspiring people to do it themselves.
As human-kind evolves technologically, we have not evolved spiritually. There are battles still being fought that have been fought for thousands of years, in the name of religion, money and power. There’s a disconnect on respect and compassion and remembering that there is room for everyone to succeed. Instead there are people out there who still act like they are five years old and get mad when people start playing with their toys.
As we battle these age old problems, we have brave souls who put their foot down against these bullies. We’ve developed social reform and aid in an attempt to balance the scale of equality. But now we have a society who has it better than any other past historical era of this world, and they think they are still victims. They still want the handout. And then the people who really need the help are left behind. The programs have backfired on us and has bred a huge attitude of entitlement.
This is a form of evolution we have contorted. Instead of independence, we’ve bred a culture of codependence. People who, instead of taking on a task on their own, play the victim and place the burden of their work and success on other people.
People have become too mired in fear-based thinking to realize the potential of being compassionate, decent, and polite human beings. All they can think about is who is not giving them what they need, why they can’t succeed as long as so-and-so is keeping them down. They try to manipulate situations and people so they can get what they want. So they can feel emotionally empowered and validated. Because they don’t feel that on their own, from within the root of their own soul.
Throughout the ages, art has sought to point out all of these negative traits and bring awareness to them. Sure, Hollywood has a propensity for happy endings. But why shouldn’t we strive for that? Art has pointed out dysfunctions, prejudices, diseases, insanity, lust for control at the cost of human life, religious persecution on the side of the religious and the non-religious. And then shows us the possibility of how it could end, should we actually have the courage to do things differently. And then for those of you who like realistic movies, there are plenty out there who have less than stellar endings. So what would you do differently?
Here are the top ten things I’ve learned in the course of living an artist’s life (you are welcome to disagree, but posting even the most compelling argument will not change what I have tangibly experienced in my life. I trust that you know what’s best for you).
1) Religion has no place in politics and should be personal. Whatever religion you decide is for you, make sure that it’s based in love, not shame and anger or abuse and doesn’t demean anyone due to skin color, race, or sexual orientation.
2) Being defensive is not necessary. You will never convince anybody that they are wrong about what they think or feel about you. Most of the time, people spew hurtful words and actions because that’s what they fear in themselves. They have no sense of self-validation, so the need arises within themselves to cause conflict and chaos to feel important. It’s dysfunctional. Those are the people to walk away from. Or, if they end up walking away from you, because you don’t play the game, don’t follow them.
3) Standing up for justice is necessary. Anything that harms another human being’s right to life is not love.
4) Do things because they are the right thing to do. Not because you’re banking karma points or future favors. (Playing guilt trips on people is a shitty thing to do. Do something because you want to. If you don’t want to, then don’t do it.) Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. If it feels wrong, then it probably is. Put on your adult pants and take a stand.
5) Fame is a fraud. If you are only doing things to become famous, you will end up a hollow shell who sold your soul. Do things because they inspire you to be more than what you presently are. Do things that are fun and add value to your life. Do things that are life altering for you. That’s where the rush is.
6) Forgiveness is key. You are allowed to feel and channel every last angry tear and euphoric smile into your art. But at the end of the day, forgiveness is key. Not for them. For you.
7) Say please and thank you. Let the other person go through the door before you. Smile and say hi. But don’t be a fucking doormat. You are allowed to say no – thank you. You are allowed to let the door close if the person is dawdling inconsiderately. (We all need to respect each other’s time). Smile and say hi in any given situation regardless.
8) Go see movies. Go to art museums. Go to concerts and shows. Go see theater. And don’t bitch about how it wasn’t “realistic”. Lighten up. It’s fucking Hollywood. I don’t go to movies, TV or art shows for my formal education, I go to be entertained. I’m inclined think everybody should have that same intent. It’s much more fun. Plus, contrarians are boring.
9) Take care of you FIRST, before you take care of anybody else. Meaning, eat well, exercise, meditate, and dress snappy and confidently. Get your check ups. And don’t tell me about the woes of no insurance. I haven’t had it most of my adult life. There are resources out there if you look for them. And if you have a very serious illness to deal with, then get your priorities straight and set yourself up with good healthcare ( yes that can be found too ) You are useless to help anybody if you are too broken down yourself.
10) BE GRATEFUL. For everything. Yes, many American political systems are broken. But we are still better off in many ways. We have a beautiful vast world of nature at our feet and in our sky. If you live in LA, like I do (or any expensive city for that matter), be thankful that you are making it in one of the most expensive cities in the world. That’s no small feat. Be thankful for your loved ones. For losing toxic jobs that make way to healthy new jobs. There’s a silver lining in everything. (Go ahead and grumble all you want. You’re just doing it in an attempt to avoid the truth: You know there’s a silver lining in everything ) Everybody dies. But everybody lives too. Remember to live every moment. Don’t take one damn minute for granted.
Remember, art improves our life vastly. Take responsibility for you. Have some fun with your life. And take some vitamins while you’re at it.