When I scroll through my Instagram, all three accounts, I take seriously the questions people ask. "How do you talk to an artist?" was one question recently. Then there were three more questions. I felt a little boxed in by the questions. At the point which I had to think about, "Can you go any lower on the price?" I started to lose interest and I felt familiar agitation.
I might have responded in this way: "Not all great artists use the word "fine" to describe their work."
And work it is. Artists, creatives, make because it's the tool of agency, if not coping, that lubricates their hands, eyes, voice, heart. Some artists go to school for it to learn a technical method, including how to create to an assignment then then take criticism. Such schooling is a contract of being willing to be controlled in order to become better at something. Just saying this lets me off the hook.
I haven't needed to get better at something. I've had plenty of inspiration, motivation, and creative mojo to send back to my ancestors who likely had no time or no thought to be creative.
The thing is, creative spiritual practice puts us in touch the long-ago ignored questions that have been kneaded into our flesh, especially the heart. It's hard to let those questions out. It's overwhelming to feel them. It's not possible to answer them.
Why do bad things happen to good people is not my question. I defy anyone who would try to define "good," and defend the authority to do so. There it is, though. Curricula has been written about this so adults can find ways to explain to children why some people suffer the unthinkable. Children do imagine horrible thoughts. What children cannot do is prepare themselves for the next suffering they will endure. I have always had a hunch there is supposed to be something in childhood that develops skills of survival, and with any luck, resilience for the inevitably intolerable. Art did that for me as a child. I kept it small and hidden.
People are in pain. Art is a medicinal salve for that pain. It occupies the part of our brain that knows how to function and play and arrange and attach and shade and that eternally popular word in the art world, juxtapose.
When art becomes a juxtaposition of one's questions expressed in a form connects to a lump in the throat and next to the tender eager heart, it's done -- the art and the fear of asking that question.