All the feelings, as an artist and human

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, September 4, 2019, 3:00 PM | comments: 0

One of the cool things about spending a lot of time seeing musicals is that the people in them tend to be interesting, and often young artists. In the last year, we've started following a number of people who were on the Hamilton #PhilipTour, and pretty much most of The Prom original Broadway cast. A number of people from the Ham tour just peeled off (those guys are endlessly entertaining on Instagram), and Prom just ended entirely, prematurely, if you ask me. That group in particular was pretty emotional about it, because it was an important, almost universally loved show. I was catching up on my RSS feeds and found a blog post from one of the women there who found that closing the show was pretty much the worst. There's a lot of intense feelings there. I imagine that working on a show is a lot like a really long summer camp, sometimes for years. Making a movie seems like that too, only shorter in duration as far as the actual shooting goes.

Art makes us feel, for sure. For me it can be pretty intense, and I'm just consuming it, not making it (most of the time). The thing is, I love that feeling, and it's the thing that makes me feel alive. Certainly live musical theater does this better than anything, in my opinion, but even a good 4-minute song can have that effect. If this feels so good, or bad, as the case may be, and that's what makes us feel the most human, do we try to find it in everything we do? These musical theater folks, they're a wreck, a lot, but not in a bad way. I'd love it if my day job made me feel that intensely. (I think... maybe it would be a bit much.)

Some parts of life are inherently prone to intense feelings, starting with parenting. Sometimes, when I put Simon to bed, and we're lying there for a minute talking about our day or whatever, I run the whole range of feels, from the wonder that he quite literally did not exist ten years ago, and now he has opinions, to the reality that he won't want to talk like that for many more years. Then as I'm walking away, I wonder if the things I did today helped him, or just irreparably fucked him up. There's stress or psychic weight around that, for sure, but I'd rather have it than not.

Work was this way more when I was doing more creative work, in radio and video back in the day. When I flipped to software developer, getting laid-off two years into it, I was guarded for a very, very long time and cautious not to get too emotionally invested in the work. In more recent years, I've injected more of that into it, but almost to a fault in some cases. Being more manager than technologist makes this even worse, because I'm responsible for the livelihood of a bunch of people. That's weird, having the intense feelings without the primarily creative intent.

This is a weird thing to ponder, because I'm simultaneously frustrated with the willful ignorance that people engage in, especially with science, and a general lack of critical thinking. But deep feeling is good when it makes us better people, to ourselves and others. I'd like to have more of that.


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