I wear many different hats. I put them on and take them off so frequently and with such smooth transitions that, at times, I don't know which hat I have on. I have the boss hat, the parent hat, the coach hat. There's the husband, son, the brother, the lover, the fighter, mentor, friend and drunk. Plus I can't forget the insomniac, the clown, the director, writer or the artist either. So many hats.
Of all the hats, there's one that I wish I wore more. Once upon a time, I was an artist. No, really. I was a commissioned, payed to create, professional artist. I have the college degree to prove it (or disprove it depending on your stance). Somewhere along the way, I went from the artist, to the teacher, then to The Man. I still work in a creative capacity, but I spend more time directing people to create for me than I do involved in the process myself. I went to college to be a fine artist and a fiction writer. After 7 years, I graduated at age 23 with the degree I now use, a BSA in Industrial Design. Basically I became an inventor.
I like what I do, and being an insomniac and a workaholic I get my hands in nearly everything, but it's unsatisfying at times. Watching someone else create something based on your idea and concept blurs the line of who the outcome belongs to intellectually. Is it mine because I had the vision and approved the result or is it the artist who brought the creation to fruition? I tend to give all the credit to the artist.
Here's where I am going to start rambling…
Doing what I do, I end up surrounded by artists. Both in my professional life and in my personal life. If you are truly surrounded by artists you'll understand this. If not, I'm going to lose you. Also, friends that play musical instruments, graphic artists and the friend who makes jewelry are not necessarily artists. They CAN be, but not necessarily and definitely not usually. The artist is the person whose life revolves around their creativity. Every moment of every day is leading toward their next moment of creative genius. They are usually single, because no one can put up with them and their obsession. They are usually addicted to multiple things which may or may not include drugs, alcohol and sex. They usually have obsessive personalities and a total disregard for anything, everything and everyone besides their own passions. Many are black holes of despair and self destruction, one bad night away from death or rock bottom. But they can all do beautiful things.
Suicide is also a likely outcome when someone lives for their own creativity. I've seen more death and suicide than I care to talk about. Everything from self inflicted gunshots to driving their car at top speed into the propane tank on the back of the movie theater we all used to work at. I've seen overdoses and car crashes and even an alcohol induced coma. But they all did beautiful things.
Recently I had a very close friend experience rock bottom. I unfortunately laid witness to her collapse as she fell from the top branch of her tree, limb by limb, to the rocky ground below. The fall took years, and she would fall 2 branches, climb up 1, fall 3, climb up 2, over and over until she was finally standing on the lowest branch. She asked for support in all directions, but by then there was none to give. She had to fall. It was inevitable. I know this now, but coming to this conclusion has been very difficult to say the least. I've seen her do beautiful things.
Surrounding yourself with these kinds of people can be wonderful and horrible all at the same time. Having that artist hat in my closet, I have more sympathy and understanding for their plights than most. When I'm at my lowest, my creativity is at it's highest. Feeling the pain of life lets you tap into the raw root of everything that is holy to the creative soul. Happiness begets greeting cards. Despair opens doors to the art the world will remember centuries from now.
I personally hate watching someone fail, but I'm also the guy who gets more entertainment from the human condition than most. That includes people's failures and successes. For some reason though, the failures are more intriguing. Especially when you get to witness the recovery as well. Think about your favorite movie or book. I can almost guarantee there is a point in there where the main character feels a crushing blow, devastating destruction or loss... Now, what's your favorite part? Is it the falling down or the getting back up? Or both?
Misery loves company, happiness is infectious and the world would be a boring fucking place without beautiful things.