Monday, April 18, 2011

The Free Artist

Artistry is possible only for those who acknowledge necessity as a condition of, rather than as a limit upon, their freedom to act.

Aaron Ridley
Hello Bermuda
You might as well make a pot of tea because this is a long one. Of course, you could skip it if you want to. But if you do that I won't send you any more cookies.
"Why do I keep writing?" I asked myself in my journal a few days ago. Naturally, the answer is "I write because I have to." Every morning two vicious, sinister guys in double breasted suits show up here with Tasers wanting to see what I wrote the day before. If I can't show them something I'm in for a lot of trouble. One day I said I was tired and needed to rest. That earned me a smack across the back of the head with a tether ball paddle.

The two men in suits are known as imagination and humor. I write because I must, because the ideas flow. It's like breathing. If you exhale you have to inhale. Every time I exhale it's another vagabond journey. If you inhale you have to exhale, there is only so long I can hold my breath.

If you walked in on me you would probably find me sitting on my bed staring aimlessly into space. At least that's what it would look like. (My mother used to think I was dopey.) But that's where the inspiration is, in the silent breath of ideas.

Like the lungs, the human mind works by itself. But also like the lungs we can control its workings. I have a quote somewhere which says that the reason people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory. A long time ago I decided that since my mind was going to work, as long as I was continuing to think, I had a responsibility to myself to think as clearly and as originally as possible. One doesn't have to be a great thinker, a genius, to utilize one's intelligence intelligently. It takes a little discipline and some getting used to.

Another thing I decided was that I didn't want to express myself through grand old sterling silver cliches. Most of them were invented by Shakespeare anyway, like "wild goose chase" and "eaten me out of house and home." His was a good example. If he can make them up, so can I.

So now I look forward to sitting down at the keyboard after staring into space to discover what this senior citizen's imagination is going to hatch. And I don't hold my breath.
It was the same with my acting. I may have told this story before. (What DB? You're repeating yourself? Warn the Google censors.) If you've heard it before you can talk among yourselves or go out for a beer.

I was doing "A Christmas Carol" at a New York State theatre. There was a quick change in the show, when Scrooge goes from his bed clothes into the winter clothes he wears to visit Fred's family and on the way buy the goose for the Cratchets.

The production gave me one minute to make the change. On stage was a small group singing a hymn. My dresser was a retired actress who had been the understudy for some of the most famous actresses on Broadway. Quick changes are things that have to be carefully designed and thoroughly rehearsed. The first time we did the change it took about five minutes. But we gradually worked it down to about a minute, and that's how we opened the show. But as time went buy we got even faster with it, and one night we did it in about 30 seconds. I went out and joined the singers.

After the performance my dresser said she was very impressed that instead of resting for the 30 seconds I went back out on the stage and it showed that's where I really wanted to be.

I was well into my career when that happened, but early on I learned that being on the stage was the place where I was the most comfortable, the most at home. I was free to work through the words of the great playwrights, to depict the human race to itself in all its disguises, to offer messages of joy, healing, fresh ideas and fresh expressions of standard ideas, to invite the people who saw me into the strange and wonderful world of human life through art. It was my necessity.

Now I write and I paint. If you do what you love you will do it even when you're tired. If you do what you love because you must, you won't even know you're tired.

Thank you for reading my journal.

DB - The Vagabond

(This is not a contest)

NASA has planned to send a two man mission on an 18 month trip to the planet Mars. It would take 6 months for the astronauts to get there and after 6 months of exploration another 6 months to return.

Should they do it and why, and if not, why not?

4 answers so far

I eagerly await your answer.



Valerie said...

I enjoy reading your journal. I look forward to your daily posts. Thank you so much for writing. I hope to see some more of your paintings someday, too. Gosh, I wish I could have seen more of your acting, too. Happy day, DB!

Sue said...

You are most welcome

pacifica62 said...

I, too, look forward to seeing what db has to say in the daily post. Sometimes I sit up at night waiting for it, other times I have to wait until the next day. Certainly true that one never tires of doing something they love to do. Fatigue would just never enter the picture. The more we do, the more the love and passion energizes us to keep going.
When the urge comes to write, is there ever any consideration given to who the literary audience is going to be. I often hear people say that the words come flowing out of them down to the paper (or computer) and rarely is there any mention made of who they might be writing for. Perhaps it is not important, maybe it is just the act of writing something down that motivates them.

Big Mark 243 said...

Thanks for sharing and writing DB..!

Arlene (AJ) said...

A wonderful read as always DB, you're always the highlight of my days when I get on the internet and read your words. You touch the heart of all who read your words dsily dear.

olddog said...

BRAVO! Db. Your senior citizen's imagination is as sharp as a tack. You have a rapier witt that gives me a different perspective on how to view life..."Thanks" I always enjoy your posts. So I await act two. "Lead on McBeth"