Okay, “avoiding” is the wrong word. But there is one compelling reason to be apprehensive about it:
It just occurred to me why I’ve lost inspiration and passion for my art. It started in the mid-eighties when I started listening to all that New Age weebie-wobie crap about happiness being our birthright as human beings.
That may well be for regular people, but the Muse never kisses the completed, fulfilled artistic soul. I’m sorry, I didn’t make the rules, that’s just facts. No wonder the Arts are taking a beating. A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that almost 85% of Americans believe that they are happy. And that’s just sad.
I’ve never been able to get a Muse to return my calls, but it’s always seemed to me that if everything seems to be going your way, it’s at least possible that you’re not actually going anywhere.
This does not mean, however, that we need to spend our lives on the bleeding edge:
I now realize that all that contentment came at a great price: my Muse no longer felt needed, so she left. I cast out a powerful force, that is, the impetus behind my art. In a word, I committed artistic suicide by eradicating melancholy from my life.
I’m not talking about clinical depression, mind you, which certainly needs to be treated. I’m talking about that bittersweet, aching sadness that demands artistic expression. If we erase that from our lives nothing needs to be expressed and we become banal, not only as individuals, but as a society. What will finally satisfy us Americans? Money? If so, how much money is enough? How many gadgets do we really need? How many pairs of shoes can we actually wear? How many TVs can we watch? How many pills can one take before one feels robbed of the fullness of life in all its grandeur and messiness?
The line between clinical depression and “bittersweet, aching sadness” is not always clearly delineated, I suspect; at various times in my life I’ve found myself switching sides, and I’ve never been particularly good at nailing down the exact crossover point. And it occurs to me that maybe I’m not supposed to.
Still, I duly pop my anti-anxiety tab every day, at least partly because I fear the consequences if I don’t.