I woke up much more easily this morning…sunlight is beginning to come through the window again by around 6:30 a.m. in Virginia. It makes for a much better day…I was up, forced myself to look professional, and off to work I went.
On the way, I listened to a great discussion about the theology of music. The Kindlings Muse posts these discussions on their podcasts frequently (they’re hinting of discussing U2’s new album in May), so it’s an exploration with which I’m familiar. Today’s discussion primarily involved Bob Dylan. The discussion of the faith content in his music is interesting if you’re into those sorts of discussions, and worth listening to. I found myself distracted part way through, however, and wondering things.
I listened as one of the panelists discussed Dylan’s “Christian period,” and it was at that point that I drifted into some introspection. I find myself envious of any artist so free to spend their days pursuing their craft that others reflect on their work enough to dissect it into periods. While I don’t think of myself as any less of an artist or as any less creative, I long for their freedom to speak truth, to voice opinions, even to dress and look the way they want. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’m given to speak truth and to express what is given me, and I’m grateful for both mine and Karen’s professional positions that pay more than just the rent. Sometimes, though, I feel as though I’m a cog in the machine, forced to dress to a certain code, bound by expectations of professionalism that get in the way of doing one’s job well at times, and a daily routine that certainly can act to dry up wells of creativity. There are moments when I wonder if we are not similar to the drone people of the foreign planet of L’Engle’s imagination in A Wrinkle In Time, where complete uniformity is required, and individuality is not tolerated for fear of the difficulties it will pose.
As with everything, however, I’m faced with the choice of either succumbing to life, or redeeming what is there. I’m choosing to redeem it…not only in my seeking to impact those people whose paths I cross each day in my professional field, but using overall experiences as inspiration, as what a close friend calls “grist for my writing mill.”
I read a long time ago somewhere that a good writer is a good observer. I think that is true of any artist. The only other art I have experience with is theatre, and I can certainly say that a good actor is a good observer, as well. To act a lifestyle, one must have seen the details of that lifestyle. To write about a human life, one must have observed human lives in all of their good and all of their bad. Clinically, I observe people every day in order to have an objective analysis of where they are, a piece of their holistic puzzle that I attempt to put together in my head to know best how to help them.
I know I’m not the only creative personality to ever struggle with feeling as though I’m a prisoner of an industrialized age…that anything fun or passionate in life is taken away by responsibilities to family, to work, even to God. There’s a danger of becoming resentful to all of these, of becoming tired of being forced to give up our creative time to any of the three. In fact, though, I think that the only way one can be creative is to give up some time to all three, because it is in all three…as well as other realms of life…that we acquire the foundations for our prose, our paintings, our poetry, and our plays. In doing so, we serve our art, thus serving those who walk down the street next to us. In doing so, we serve the Divine.
And, in doing so, we neither become cogs in the machine or rage against it. We do something so much better than that. We act to redeem it from the inside out, with language and beauty that ultimately points to faith.