Sometimes other writers talk to me about the futility of the artist’s life, particularly at a time when the digital world seems to be steamrollering over publishing, when it’s harder and harder to make even the most meager living, when it’s so difficult to attract the attention of readers, who have the attention span of goldfish in a vast sea of shiny things.
But the world is the way it is. Besides, creating is something we do because we can’t NOT do it. We are saner creating than not creating, which is all the affirmation I need to go on.
This morning I sat in the room where I have my coffee every morning, and spent some time gazing out the window into the middle distance. It came to me how much I long to be like the fir tree in my garden. He (I personify trees, forgive me) endured years overshadowed by more impressive trees, who sucked up all the light and space and water, but still he grew as best he could. And when those other trees were gone, he grew in a burst of joy. And when I candlewicked him, fearing he would grow too big for my well-ordered garden, he still grew, soft pale-green tips like feathers at the end of every limb. He sleeps in winter, when it’s time to sleep and grows in summer, all in a rush of life. He grows knowing one day he will come to the end of all growing and grow no more, but fall and rot and become the food of other growing things. Or, maybe not knowing any such thing, being too busy with the art of growing.
And I long to be like the little crabapple, who stands behind the fir, hidden but for her one scarred, comparatively thin leg. Every spring she bursts forth in a jubilation of flowering pink song. Growing, celebrating, joining in the intoxication of the moment. She is older than the fir, more gnarled, closer to the time when all such moments will, for her, end. I long to be like her, too, growing anyway, pouring out everything she has to bring color and perfume to the world, though no one at all may ever notice, because she is doing what she was made to do.
So, we write and paint and dance and cook and sing because when when we are creating we are doing what we were made to do.