I walked to a park in a neighborhood I was familiar to me, but not my own. The world had impinged upon me, darkened my mood and I had allowed it to do so. Watching a local sports team I loosely follow, I began feeling defeated. Not only were they losing, but also playing poorly. They had made some difficult plays, only to miss easy chances and muff the most basic plays. Although it may be silly to become depressed when well-paid grown men don’t do what I hope they will, it happens. I’m sure I’m not the only one it happens to, either.
A sense of futility that I allow space in the back of my psyche, crept into my consciousness and clobbered me. Mostly, this feeling centers on my art and my writing. I began wondering why I bother. Painting, oil paint, art came to me in late middle age. I’ve had a favorable response, sold the occasional canvas, but have been unable to find the illusive element needed. I’m honest enough to admit I’d like to be discovered, to be the next big thing. I truly believe this can happen, though I don’t expect it to happen. I realize that is a mixed message, which may be part of my problem. I do my best to believe the former, but don’t always succeed. In the mean time I want to find a way to make a steady if modest income.
This brings me back to my walk. The park I went to has a small gallery housed in a former home and sanitarium. The art on offer appeared to range from student work to pieces by highly accomplish artists. My dark mood brightened a bit, seeing others showing their art, pursuing their creativity. I include pursuing creativity, because I believe anyone who produces art or fine craft in any form, does so because they must. This is true for me. No doubt, it factors into my feelings of inadequacy and futility. Health issues have made it difficult for me to paint for some time. That I write and post on my blog keeps me mostly sane, though only mostly.
I’m sure I’m not the first artist or writer to think about chucking it all. I don’t mean suicide, but rather abandoning my artistic and literary struggles. After all, I’m the one exposing myself to the pain and depression of the struggling artist. Yet, at that moment, buoyed by the show I’d seen, I stepped out of the gallery to continue my amble in the park. Breathing fresh air, enjoying the sun, I walked onward. My path took me past a small cottage on the grounds. At this cottage, they sell used books to benefit the local library. I walked down a set of stairs on the side where I found tables covered with books. Two people sat on a table to the right, with more books. I glanced at the books on the tables and then stopped facing the two people. I hadn’t found the entrance yet and intended to ask them. As I framed my question, I took a step forward.
Like magic, the entrance appeared. It had been concealed by the corner of the wall at a right angle to the one I’d stood beside. That one simple step brightened my outlook and came as a revelation. I’d been feeling crappy, making myself miserable and that step brought me into a figurative ray of sunlight. It was if I had been walking with my head down, my eyes on the ground. A single step changed my view and my attitude. It inspired me to write what you have just read, renewed my courage and gave me the energy to continue my artistic journey. Who knows what one more step will reveal?