A story I like to tell sometimes is about when I was a little kid and I had a Disco Mickey portable record player. Back then, I was all about my Long Playing Record storybooks. If you grew up in the 70s or 80s, you know what those are. The rest of you will be baffled. They were tiny 33rpm records that went along with an accompanying book and they would prompt you to turn the page. It’s probably one of the big reasons why I learned how to read very early on.
To me, it was my record collection. If I had a crush on a girl who came by the house (it didn’t happen often) I would drag out my storybook LPs and show her my record collection. It was a way to show someone else what my interests were. Since then, throughout the years, there have been other record collections since and other girls I have liked that I have shown them too.
I guess what my point is that when people get to know us, and we get to know ourselves, we have certain things that are important to us, and they aren’t always collections or hobbies or interests. Sometimes they are philosophies, values, and little characterizing things that let them behind the curtain just a little bit more than someone else. A lot of us tend to live very Surface. It’s easier that way. It’s like having a piece of crap car when you live in a bad neighborhood. You don’t even lock it at night because you don’t want some idiot smashing the windows to rob the change out of your cup holder.
The good stuff is inside. Safe. Sometimes we don’t even let on that we have it.
One of my recent posts talked about a friendship that needed to end. The crazy thing is that at the end of it, one of the last texts I got was this person telling me how much they hated The War of Art and how it was stupid. Muse this! Muse that! I hate this stupid book! I thought it was a weird ad hominem attack. But in a way, it was like somebody kicking a hole through my favorite record. Only it said more about them than it said about me.
You see, in this world, there are creatives, and they value things like emotion, and creativity, and beauty and art. If you want an idea about how that stuff works, watch Moulin Rouge. These used to be ideals that people would die for. There aren’t many of us Warrior Poets left. The way our world has gotten has become so cold. Utilitarian. The art and beauty and emotion has been considered superfluous. Ironically, so many of us throw our money at new movies or TV shows and never think for a moment that someone came up with that. Someone whose piss probably smells like a venti Americano.
I suspect these are the same people who look at a field through the car window and think, “Corn. Sunflowers. Wheat. Cows.” While someone who appreciates these things marvels at how sunlight and water and nutrients in the soil can make a seed grow into a plant and all those plants are feeding the world. How one variety of corn tastes sweeter than the rest and brings back memories of a hot summer afternoon, grilling hamburgers, the kids splashing in the wading pool. They might even stop to think about how some people aren’t getting enough of those things in that field and they are struggling to feed themselves or get by. To the other, it’s just calories.
I’m not saying one is right and the other is wrong, it’s just not what blows my hair back. It seems a little cold.
As a creative, I know that in times of war, bronze statues are pulled down and melted into slag to build tanks and shell casings. I know that books are thrown into burning piles and reduced to ash. In our daily lives, school music programs are the first to be cut, unless an art program exists at all. But to some of us, life isn’t worth living without art and expression. It’s just existing, and who the hell wants to do that?
I have been told by this hater of Steven Pressfield’s works that I wouldn’t be single if I made more money. You don’t have a lot to offer her in terms of security. I think that says more about other people’s values than it does mine. And I’d rather be single than worry that someone I was with required me to have good credit rating in order to love me.
I’ve written about this in the past. There is a lot to be said about toiling your life away in a thankless, unfulfilling job, just because it has a decent pension plan, versus chasing your dream. I’ve done both, and I have to say, I’d rather miss a couple meals and tighten my belt than sit at a desk all day, literally watching the minutes of my life tick past and hoping that by the time I am old enough to retire, I can still live off the scraps that my annuity gets me. Where I’d probably be too old to travel, my health would suck because I’ve been sitting on my ass in my comfort zone all day, and I’ll be riddled with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and depression because I kept waiting for my life to begin at 65. 66. “Maybe I’ll retire at 68…”
Do you know how many people I’ve watched die within months of retirement? How many more have died while still waiting to retire?
Right now it is 10:30pm and I’m writing. I’m not getting paid to write this. (If you’d like me to get paid, check out my other site and buy me a coffee!) Fewer than 20 people will probably even read it when it posts, but it makes me happy. I value art, the written word, putting my thoughts to paper, and the fulfillment that brings. Even if I’m not rich enough to get a girlfriend.
Weird that even people who are broke as hell still find each other, and a lot of them are happy. And some of the most miserable people I’ve ever met live in mansions.
I’ve had things. I had a lot of things when I was married. I had a whole basement of the collection of several Christmases, two bankruptcies worth of credit card purchases spanning fifteen years, and a minivan with a DVD player, two china sets, an 8 place Gorham silver set from 1895, purebred dogs, and a lot of antiques. I wouldn’t trade anything right now to have those back.
They are just things. One of the valuable lessons divorce taught me is it’s just stuff. The thing that bothers me the most is when I go looking for my potato masher and realize it is in a drawer in the kitchen in somebody else’s house.
I value connection from kindred spirits, other creatives, artists, dreamers, and those who keep sitting down to do the work because they love it. And some of them aren’t even that great at it. Hell, my writing is probably debatable! But someone who says “I am not the best at what I do, so why waste my time? Why listen to the Muse who hovers over every blade of grass and tells it to “GROW” when I can…my mind just goes blank at this point. What do they do?
They are the kind of people who can just walk away from someone they loved and actually forget their name. I’m the kind of guy who lights a candle for someone’s birthday whom I haven’t seen in years. We aren’t the same.
Right now, I’m working, but I don’t feel like it is work. Every word I write is the iron sharpening iron that makes me better at what I do. It makes me better at connecting to my audience. Better at showing just a little bit of my record collection, and in doing so, I get to see yours too!
To anyone who doesn’t get why the Muse is important or why the War to create Art is such a driving, passionate part of our lives…it’s like they used to say about jazz back in the day.
“If you have to ask, I can’t tell you.”