Artist Plight

Maybe on some level, I chose to get my PhD just to force me to write. Write something big, and cohesive, and intentional. Writing on purpose for a purpose, maybe. A large part of it had to do with him convincing me I was smart enough to do so. I knew I was smart but never cared about it. Not really. It was never my thing to be the smart one. In fact, I’m not sure what my thing was. I suppose it was my personality, I was always friends with everyone…but really very few. So maybe I did it to try to see what he saw in me? Maybe I wanted to be the things he thought I was. Maybe it’s a little of both.

As the time winds down and I sit still to hear what’s calling me next, it’s nothing in academia. I am gravely envious of people who create things in times of desperation like Humans of New York. I think, is it a dire situation to be a scholar without an institution? The thought makes me cringe a bit. Creating a vita, sending transcripts, interviewing for jobs and reviewing benefits packages. All things considered, that’s my safety net, but it’s not what makes me fly.

If I’m honest with myself I just want to write. I want to go places, photograph strangers, and write the stories they elicit for me. It’s what I do anyway. I’m inspired by people, places, words, things, and sometimes nothing I can put a finger on. And I want to talk about it, only verbally I’m no good. I want to create the art space of the thing I’m studying. How the things out there show me pieces of me, in here. And vice versa. How I’m both painter and subject in this world. It sounds romantic and Parisian, complete with a diet of baguettes dipped in Merlot.

It’s a scary thing to consider. Where would I live? How would I sustain? Granted, I wouldn’t only want to do that. I’d like to work, I’d like to work with groups…continue my research and understanding me|we creation. I’d like to teach, here and there but not the rat race. Not the tenure game…

It’s an opportunity. To design the life that’s calling me, and to have enough stability for my ego but enough freedom for my soul. That’s the thing about listening, you can never unhear. The voice is clear, distinct, and unmistakeable; it rings and resounds like the bells of Notre Dame. And maybe one day when I hear them, I’ll laugh at the grossly exaggerated comparison. But maybe not.

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