This has been a very difficult time, for so many reasons. I could apologize for silence, for half-stuttered attempts to say something, anything. But we blame ourselves too often, so often, for our failed wish to make the rocks thrown at us, as they hit the taut strings of our emotions and our longings, into music.
Or in the new short form – what hurts us, we either hide or explore.
It’s difficult to create while fighting; impossible to create while hiding.
I played paintball once. Sitting in the pub afterwards, staring at bruises whose shape and formation had before never been created on my body, I thought to myself which role I would take if I ever played again. Or if it were real.
Yet speaking out means not just the words are front and center.
As we all live through these extraordinary times, watching events occur that we never imagined could happen, though we feared them, connection seems to be the most important idea. Compassion and loving kindness – those Buddhist tenets. Not backing down from calling out corruption, hypocrisy, and – what is now enshrined as our newest word in English – “post-truth”.
When I think of my last book, and all the controversy around it, I’m very glad that I remained true to what seemed the only possible path to take. There was so much pressure to play those games. There is a great line from Julian Casablancas of The Strokes from the song “I’ll Try Anything Once”:
Everybody plays the game/And if you don’t you’re called insane.
In these days, with real dangers made soft by headlines pretending it’s all business as usual, one could ask: what difference can any artist or writer make? So many comments are out there asking for silence from the people they claim to respect. Luckily there are voices that aren’t scared to speak out. I read Amy Tan’s statements on Facebook with a mixture of fear and awe. Or Amanda Palmer, who said today:
regarding this comment. here’s a public service announcement:
**IF YOU COME ACROSS AN AMERICAN ARTIST, WRITER, JOURNALIST OR MUSICIAN RIGHT NOW WHO HAS NO POLITICAL OPINIONS AND/OR IS AFRAID OF TALKING POLITICS, BE VERY CONCERNED.**
go back to germany in 1935 and tell paul klee, bertolt brecht and the other poets, musicians, painters and novelists that “politics” had nothing to do with their “real lives”.
Are you ready to speak? Are you ready to listen?
That is a challenge to work on.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers, and everyone out there who longs to dream.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and I hope you find moments of peace and love on this odd holiday in these strange times with your anxious self.