Okay there are several threads where I might post this op-ed with some degree of being relevant and not off topic, but Ive decided that here might be as good as anywhere. Just be warned I'm in a philosophical mood. As always, feel free to comment.
Rewards of Despair
by Desmond Rutherford
The circumstances of one's life are often overlooked as being a significant contributing factor for creative work, and yet adverse conditions might be used to dismiss the opportunity to create. Trying to write, compose, or even live, whilst constrained by one catastrophe after another is, obviously, challenging. The uncertainty of not knowing if the bed you got out of this morning will still be yours tonight is not something that provides the most stable environment conducive to creativity. It seems that we can recognise the emptiness of our own personal apocalypse, simply through our life's circumstances.
Sometimes it seems that no matter what we do, life goes from bad to worse, to virtually impossible. Anxiety, fear, and terror may be the consequence of real dangers or they may be anticipations, the sequels of irrational conjecture, but the effect is the same. Sadly, they give rise to anxiety that we know will lead too many people into seeking a solution that is tragic for all of us. But there is also a less desolate aspect to threatening situations, that can permit us to learn from the experience, even though it nearly incapacitates us. Suffering does give us an insight into the human condition, with all its foibles and its hopes. And it does take courage and bravery to live through anxieties, and we are brave and courageous if we dare to look horror in the eye and scream, "I want to live," as loudly as we can. Just screaming that you aren't going to take it anymore, is not enough; you must demand to live. I know it can seem impossible...I've felt despair too. I've seen the horrors in the faces of others, reflected in and lurking behind their eyes, in the dungeons of their minds. And I am humbled when I have little, and they have nothing...but their determination to go on living.
Despair can lead to depression, and depression is restrictive, immobilising to paralysis, and yet courage can be born of desperation, inspiring us to find its truth, reality, depth and recognise that horror does not last forever, even though we may be affected for the rest of our lives, from having experienced the despair and depression. If we have ever asked why life is so full of such experiences, then we are on the brink of realising that life is those experiences, and it is our place to observe them, embrace them, use them, and make an art form of them, one that is as unique as we are; each of us.
To live through horror, persecution and deprivation is not unknown to many peoples; indeed, LGBTQ people seem to be rather adept at learning how to survive in a hostile world. And it's not merely a matter of what we survive making us stronger, it's a matter of daring to live and love in the face of adversity; daring to shout, “Yes!” to life and living it. And then, with that innate human desire to express ourselves artistically, we feel impelled to take our discoveries, our thoughts and stories, and scratch them into the face of the Earth, so others may see them, share them, feel comforted, informed, inspired, entertained, or just so someone else knows that wonder exists, and that we can tell each other about it.
Compassion comes in many guises, but it must be true at its core, real truth without superstitions, and the truth of reality is not always easy to handle, but is its own reward, because it demands we live life fully, in the here and now, searching for the only sane and satisfactory reason for existence...Love.
"The job of the artist is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.” - Gertrude Stein from the 2011 movie, Midnight in Paris.