Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 13 - Alchemy

August 21st, 2009

Sometimes we don’t know why we do what we do yet we trust that it might just be safe to let instinct be our guide. Why did I get up at 3:45 am and eat three quarters of a grapefruit? I’m not sure. But I’m not apologizing for it. It needed to be done.

Why do artists choose to be artists? We don’t really. It chooses us like a terminal gift. It tells us that if we even hint at abandoning this marriage..that we will wither up and die. Kinda sounds like a cryptic heartbreakingly beautiful addiction. But it’s truth. And art, good art that is, is truth.

I wrote an article for Time Out New York in 2006 about the Healing Power of Creativity. I’ve always held on to a quote from interviewing the Dean of Music Therapy at NYU. “Creativity is health.” And if health is equivalent to life then..CREATIVITY=LIFE. If one of these begins to dwindle, it is a guarantee that the other one is going down too.

I love teaching comedy improv because we’re all artists and some people just need to be reminded that they are. Having the opportunity to reconnect grown adults with their sense of play is beyond rewarding and palpable. Creating involves the process of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to our senses and emotions. Such an endeavor results in inevitable growth. It is a fundamental truth.

But some of us need it in our lives more often than others. I’m sure a lot of it comes down to basic genetic wiring. The new age energy people claim that the old souls who are members of the reincarnation mile high club possess the most primal desire to create. Either way, The reality is that some people make the shifts they need by having art in their life once a day, once a month or once a year. God Bless them. Others of us need it flowing through our veins in some way shape or form at every waking moment. Some people get their fix while doing ten minutes on the stair master while others need hours. I find it interesting that this is the analogy that I go with because a revolving stair machine is about as interesting to me as watching a MTV Behind the Music Special about the life and times of Michael Bolton. If there is no bus crash in Sweden..not interested.

All artists are teachers and healers IF AND ONLY IF they are creating from a place that is authentically who they are at that particular moment. I am challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone and tap into those arenas that universally cause anger and where we can collectively see irony. Maybe I’ll fail. Maybe I’ll offend. But I have to try. I see all my creative heroes as alchemists with the profound ability to turn lead into gold. I am sourcing from a place in myself that is frighteningly raw and present with the hopes that such an honesty might help others(and myself) experience the lead of the trials and tribulations of everyday day life transform into the gold of the spirit.

Come with me or don't. But like my midnight craving for a grapefruit, I simply don't have a choice.


  1. Very nice read that I'm sure will resonate with many artists out there. I would challenge you though--you wrote in your post that maybe you'll fail. What would failure look like in your mind? Because you write that creating=life. Well, if you're creating, and you're thus living, how can you be failing or ultimately fail? What is the "ultimate" moment of recognition? I don't think there is one.

    What is there other than life and happiness? Won't you still be alive? Won't you be creating, and living? To me, it seems like the options for you are not success vs failure, but living vs not living. And rather than thinking about it in terms of the future, knowing that you are already living, that life is good, and that so are you. Really, do you ever "fail" on stage? Aren't you always growing from each experience? In fact, if you were never "failing" on stage, you wouldn't really be growing--you'd just be "doing". Some people can just "do". But artists are too cerebral for that. You will always examine the physicality of your actions and delve into them metaphysically, psychologically, multi dimensionally.

    This recognition, that you are good, maybe even great, and that you are aloud to leverage your gifts to enjoy your life, can be scarier than anything else, because it means that all the responsibility for your happiness is actually on you...

    When we Jews toast, we say "l'chaim"...a toast to life itself. You are living and growing from your artistic passion. You've already succeeded. You're alive. You're good. L'chaim!

  2. Alchemy, yes! We have to be open and exposed to be alchemists but this is what also makes us the "connectors" - society's glue. Usuallly gorilla glue :)
    L'chaim - like Allah! Ole!

    Love that you wrote this on the 13th day. Some would say unlucky to be writing about failure that day. Me, a gal born on the 13th, the most perfect day to write about creativity, inspiration and eating out of the fridge in the middle of the night!