(This piece was originally published through TeamBackPack.net. It is republished here in it’s original form. TeamBackPack, the Truest Platform.)
For my whole life, I have been walking away from art. My parents told me I’d grow up to be a rockstar; somewhere in my adolescent rebellion, I crafted a version of myself that was anything but. In highschool, I played a mean horn and sang often, but never took my music seriously or thought it could be a “career” or future. For my whole life, I have been running away from art: towards something more tangible, less terrifying, easier to understand and explain. I am an artist deep down, or I could have been if I spent less time running in the opposite direction.
Not that my story is unique. Far from it. The creative’s dilemma defines my generation: we have the heart and mind and circumstance to create the greatest art, but perhaps lack the initiative; perhaps doubt our purpose or lack the courage. I know that I do.
Creating Great Art Takes Courage.
Or perhaps our world is too cruel. Many of my most talented friends have left art behind when the power and push of the “real world” gets too heavy. And perhaps they are right to do so. It can be hard to justify sacrifice, even in the pursuit of true art, if that struggle keeps food out of your children’s mouths or puts you on the street. Perhaps we were all born sellouts; or perhaps something about our time and place, something about our struggle, breathes a sense of hopelessness in us: perhaps we face too great of odds to pursue great art greatly. I always thought that I did.
Not that my story is unique: far from it. Plenty of “artists” quit making “art.” Plenty of creative spirits with something to say find themselves silent too often. Plenty of the most talented and creative people I have ever met take long sabbaticals from the pursuit of creating great art, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. When I need sleep I sleep; when I need money, I work. Hibernation is a part of living, and stepping away from art for a moment can refresh our eyes and stimulate our imagination.
Many of hip-hop’s greatest artists have feigned retirement, coming back to art in time. What would the art form look like if Jay-Z really faded to black?
All I beg, from each and every struggling artist that takes that break from creating, is this. Come back. Don’t walk away from art for good. Come back someday. Creating is part of you; so create. No matter how far you stray, or how long you rest, you can walk back to art. Don’t let anyone or anything break you, and don’t let the world shape you when you have the power to shape the world. Art is a calling; creating is a calling. So create. And don’t walk away from art for good, else you walk away from who you are, and stare back some day at two paths in a lonely desert, and trace your footsteps back for years to a moment when you decided who you wanted to be and decided to leave that spark of passion to starve, when it could have roared in a brilliant flame that sparked others and kept you warm, and looking back ask yourself quietly, “what might have happened if I never gave up?”
Don’t walk away from art for good. As a fan, I beg you. As an “Artist,” I warn you. There is something here, in creating, that you can not and will not find again if you leave; something about who you could be that you will never become. I’ll walk back with you, towards Art, and when I see you there I’ll smile.