Free the Bird

 

Not everyone is an artist.  It must be frustrating to be on the outside.  To fail to understand that artists need to create things.  That without the process of creating, their world fails to have meaning.  Artists create to feel.  They create to be sane and stop the ticking and urging and pulsing that comes during the in-between.

For those supporters and wives and husbands, for heaven’s sakes give them a knife to chisel.  Give them a canvas and blank page and stage with lights. Help them be who they were meant to be.  Because artists will create with or without you.  They will ignore reality and drag food to their hovel and make all things work around their craft like a bear protects her young.  It’s primal and essential to their very existence.  Screw the world.  They will stay up all night building paper houses.

 Because to them, it’s the only true thing they’ve ever known.

A sculptor sees an eagle buried in a rock and chips away to find it, smoothing and chiseling and releasing the wing and feather and beak.  If the hammer is broken they’ll grab a rock or a mallet in order to free the poor thing.  Because birds need to soar.  And to the painter who sees the sky as a canvas and clouds bursts of oil, they brush before they speak.  In their dreams they are forever layering and smoothing and adding or taking away.  And to strip them of paint means you’ll find them in fields like savages, beating and rubbing berries against flint to release color.  So they can sort out chaos and form shapes and get the ugly out of their head and onto something.  So they can be real.  Honest.  As true as the clouds that are locked in their minds.

And oh, how the blank page calls.  A writer runs and twitches and hurls himself toward words so he can unscramble the nonsense.  So he can show the world what he sees – the harvest moon plump and drunk.  The dimples of a woman’s lower back and the searing fierceness of mountains that will never be climbed.  Stories are spelled out in furious rhythm while he eats oatmeal or waits in line at the dry-cleaners or takes a shower.  He shakes his head and screams out loud and drives fast.  But they never leave.  He is always forming and creating and painting.   And he can’t breathe until the words are settled.  Nestled down on the page where they belong.  He runs inside and throws down his day, typing to free the bird.

Some think it’s a curse to be an artist.  To be shackled with feelings of creation. I think it’s a gift.  To have eyes that see what others don’t.  To feel for brief intervals a fullness and completeness that you are doing what you are truly meant to do.  What God intended.  What your soul was designed for.

My husband is a brilliant lawyer.  He won’t admit it, but he knows it is true.  He speaks and builds and has the gift of crescendo and cadence that most do not.  The feeling he gets when persuasion draws people in, through a mastery of facts and law and the art of knowing rhythm and timing and when to precisely strike after the strategic pregnant pause– this is magic.  He must feel on top of the world, and he knows he was built for this.   My dear kindred soul, I understand you.  I am you.  We can be nothing but who we are. 

Artists are lonely souls.  They don’t do it for fame or applause or attention.  They are artists because they have to be.  Because their life depends on it.  Because if they don’t do it, they feel lost and weary and worn.  We are all born with eyes to see the needs around us.  To put food on the table and clothe our offspring and develop friendships.  We understand the relevance of making a living and fixing leaky pipes and cleaning house.  And yet to some, God gives a different sort of vision. We owe it to Him to create what he puts on our hearts.  For our own sanity.  For the betterment of the world.   But mostly, for His glory. 

I have but one eye that works, the other ravished with cancer.  So I pry it open with stilts to continue to see, and draw with words, and sing.  To feel creation and music and stories pulse through my veins.  It makes me settled, and strangely alive.  It sets me free.

Encourage artists.  Help them do what they are designed to do.  Because the world needs more beauty.  More eagles and sunsets and books that make us weep. God is using humans to show but a snapshot of heaven.  Let them paint and write and speak and sing.

Honor their high calling.  

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