Imagine if you were to create a painting or a sculpture. Something of beauty. Imagine feeling the medium in your hands…the coolness of the clay and it’s suppleness as it warms in your palms and fingers and becomes more pliable. Feel it on your finger tips as you spread it, mold and cup it, getting it to bend smoothly to your vision of beauty…. Imagine the time it takes to get it just right. Then the time it takes to fire it, if it must be hardened. Imagine it finished. Being admired by people for its beauty, it’s simplicity, it’s…youness…. Hear their ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ as they compliment you on your vision and talent.
Or imagine the chalky odor of Gesso on a freshly stretched canvass. And how acrid the paint smells as you twist off the smooth little plastic paint caps and create rich colorful globs of on a palette. Little wells of glimmer and loveliness. Hear the swishing as you start to apply the paint to the canvas. Feel the brush in your fingers. How long is it and what kind of bristles does it have? How hard is it? How long does it take to bring your vision to life? Hours? Days? Months? Years?
Or maybe art isn’t your thing and you prefer food. Maybe you get a creative urge to bake some sort of pastry and you mix a rich, silky batter by hand with a polished whisk until its shiny and glossy; full of divine cocoa or vanilla aromas. Or maybe the scent of bitter orange and lemon rise through your nostrils and fill the space around you with their sweet, citrusy scent?
Imagine how your masterpiece ribbons when you pour it from the slick mixing bowl into the baking pan. How shiny it looks and how sweet and rich it smells. Imagine setting it in the oven protectively, the blast of warmth hitting your face as you set it in place. The feel of the timer as you punch the buttons or twist the dial and set the countdown to your gastronomic ecstasy. You are a God, forging your Opus with flame, sugar and flour: like Zeus shaping humans out of mud. How your house fills with the sweet aroma as it blooms until finally you remove it from the oven. You let it cool and frost it before presenting your masterpiece to the people you love: an offering of your creativity and joy. Your inner desire to share what you are with others.
Now, imagine taking this beautiful piece of work that you invested your time and energy on. That you invested your sense and sensual appreciation into. That you conceived of, dreamed up and labored into being. Imagine this thing that you made. That came from you and your energy, your desires, your wishes and passions. Imagine taking it and then throwing it into a public toilet. Where the rich aromas of paint, clay or sugar and cocoa mingle with the stench of filth and excrement. And imagine standing there in that public head and encouraging people to go into that stall and destroy your creation in the most foul and disrespectful way any human can.
Pretty absurd, right? Pretty awful. And yet we do this with our lives every day. We take how many years to create the ultimate piece of art each of us has to showcase in the world: our lives, and we throw them in the toilet. We sacrifice them to jobs that squelch the beauty out of us because we are told by social proof from the time we are children that this is what we must do. We let teachers steal our gifts and friends convince us that we are less than we really are. We settle for lovers who do not touch us or gaze into our eyes and say, “You are beautiful.” We let doctors corrupt our understanding of heath. We let TV feed us cynicism and dysfunction like geese being force fed for foie gras: in both cases the end being the same…. We drug ourselves on food and booze and superficiality until we are numb.
And what’s the result after we take our masterpieces and toss them in the can?
We isolate ourselves from each other. We close ourselves off with cynicism and anger. We talk only about ourselves and avoid making real connections with others. We hold anyone who wishes to get to know us with contempt, because after all, we tossed out masterpiece in a fucking crapper, so what the hell could they possibly see in us? We are suspicious and jaded and, goddamnit we like it that way! Because, fuck it, we’re gonna show the world how much we hate it because, after all, it forced us to give up our beauty didn’t it?
Or did it?
I’ve said it before, to you, my friends. Either in my books or blog posts, or even to some of you in person. You cannot create beauty in this world if you are not willing to make the space for that that thing to be defended. Whether it be our ideas, our art, our romance, enthusiasm, prosperity or hope. You cannot create beauty and then throw it in the fucking trash, because it is worse than if you’d never even tried to make beauty to begin with. And if you choose not to create beauty, right here, right now, in this world full of billions of people because the price is just too high to learn how to defend it: if you are choosing not to make that magical thing that can grow between people and animals and nature when beauty is present, then you are not only throwing your masterpiece away, but you’re pissing on what you were made for.
You may say, “But Hayden I’ve been hurt.”
To you I say, “What artist hasn’t been?”
“You are an artist. And your life is the beautiful thing you are creating. From great hurt can come great understanding and profound revelation about the nature of what we are. But only if you choose to see it that way; if you choose to remain open and childlike in your appreciation of the world.
When I was a boy, I used look at around at people who claimed they wanted to be happy, to be in love and find romance, to be prosperous and enthusiastic and creative and I’d watch them push those things away every time they showed up in their lives. Every chance they got to be happy, they chose victimhood, sadness and self-pity instead: because those things were easier. They were familiar.
I used to say to a friend of mine back then, “Most people spend their lives just missing it.” It was a horrifying thought, that propelled me to look further for answers. It’s a thought that that I’ll leave you with now.
And I’ll leave you with this bit of hope. There are two big keys to gaining a life that full of romance, enthusiasm, prosperity and hope that I’m going to share with you now... One is laughter, the other is sincerity. If you can take those two clues I’ve given you and do something meaningful with them, nothing will stop you ever again. Because they will lead to everything that’s really important in this world.