Art takes time

posted by Jeff | Saturday, July 18, 2020, 8:35 PM | comments: 0

With the world in many ways on pause right now, I feel like maybe we have too much time to think. I revel in that time, but lately it's too much of a good thing. I can only imagine how people who need to have something to do at all times, to avoid thinking too much, are surviving. For me, I often come back to the idea that I may have been intended to be more of a creative person. Artistic endeavors tend to have incredible highs, at the expense of having pretty serious lows. There's a part of me that feels it's probably worth it to some degree.

Professionally, there's certainly a creative aspect to what I do, but I wouldn't call it art. All I can really say is that over time I feel like I get further and further away from creating something that resembles art. That's likely why I'm writing more, I want to make "something" with my video camera, I fleetingly want to learn a musical instrument, and wish I could be in a band or a theatrical production, or something. I was watching We Are Freestyle Supreme tonight on Hulu, a doc about the improvised show that a troupe has been doing for 15 years, on and off, including Lin-Manuel Miranda. I was struck by the phenomenon it again became on Broadway late last year, and that it's basically just a bunch of friends who get together and instantly create something entertaining and joyous for people.

FLS is art of the most ephemeral kind. It's never the same twice, and only the memory of it persists. As Miranda points out, things that endure, like Hamilton, do not come easily. It took him six years to write that show. If it takes him, a genius who won a Pulitzer, Tony, Emmy and Grammy before the age of 40, that long to create something great, I feel like most of us have no shot.

Where does that leave me? First, it makes me understand that the only time box there is for creating things is lifespan. That's already a pretty big motivator when you enter midlife. The second thing is that scope is relative when it comes to doing anything. I've learned that you don't necessarily have to invent things that outlive you to have purpose. The simplest kind gesture toward someone else can have immeasurable impact. And the last thing is that if I wish to create things, it takes practice. Most of us non-genius types need to make a lot of shit before we make anything of moderate value.

That last part is something that I keep seeing over and over again. Just this year, I've seen that sentiment from Spike Lee, Judd Apatow and Kevin Smith, all filmmakers that I admire. You can't be too precious about what you make. It's not even clear what the bar for success is, but it might just be finding joy in doing it.

So I've got time. I can't travel, theme parks are off the table for awhile. I can practice making things. Art takes time.


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