Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dear God,

So lately I've been working on what to do with my God Issues. Nothing seems appealing. There's nothing that seems to make sense with God. I feel abandoned. Even though I know He said he would never leave me or forsake me, it sure doesn't feel like it.

Right now my spiritual life feels more like the family disfunction that I've been witnessing. Enter the Characters... God: the rich and removed power player that can do anything you might need, but won't. Jesus: The perfect older sibling that God's always comparing you to. You know the one that in just 33 short years built his own spin off of the father's parent company that not only lasted for over 2000 years, but has managed to outsell Judaism on the international market. I can almost hear it, "You're 28 already; what have you been doing with your life?" Finally the Holy Spirit: the weird cousin that no one wants to talk about but somehow winds up being the life of the party any time he bothers to show up.

As I type this I hope to God that I'm not losing my soul. I just don't know what else to say or what else to think. I might as well make how I'm feeling concrete so I can either make things right between me and God, or come to grips with whatever he sees fit to punish me with. I know this is bad theology. I know it's never a good idea to try and determine theological consequences based solely on the pissed off emotional rantings of a recently injured ego.

So God, here's my grievance. I feel like you're punishing my wife for what her father did. I feel like you are robbing my wife of a dream we've had. I feel like you want happiness to be impossible. I feel like you're being selfish. I feel like you're cruel, by giving ambitions that can't be fulfilled. I feel like you've trapped me in this doldrum. I'm ready to eat the horses, or throw them over to make the boat lighter, just so I can be anywhere but here, dealing with anything but this. I want to hit something. Not even for the sake of venting, but sometimes in hopes that I might break something. Maybe if something is actually broken I might be a priority. My problem might matter. Maybe if I hurt more I might be able to move the hand of an infinite God to break through the barrier of the finite, to actually do something other than take. You could have done it differently, but you didn't. Why is that? I don't even feel like thinking about anything else, but I don't want to think about this. It feels absolute. It feels profound. It feels stupid.

So I'm here. Trying my best to pray to a God that's just pissed me off. How do I ask forgiveness for these feelings? Can you deal with these? I don't think that I can. How do I deal with these ideas and feelings? One more shift, and I feel like dropping into the statement that God is a construct of man's imaginings. That seems like it would be easier. Then I could just implode in peace. Then it would also make sense. If God is a product of imagination, then I couldn't feel like He could handle this any better than I could. The only other alternative is of course probably the right one. I just have a hard time believing, and I have in fact envisioned God to be much smaller then he is. So here it goes again. Turns out the problem is with me. It's always a problem with me.

God, I confess. I need you to forgive me for these things. For wanting to not believe. Not for believing that you don't exist, but for the persistent belief that you just don't care. I confess that I sometimes believe you cruel, that I sometimes believe you vindictive, that I sometimes believe you petty, that I sometimes believe you childish. Most of all though, that sometimes I, and more often than not lately, I believe you apathetic, distant as stars and as cold as stone. GOD, I NEED YOUR FORGIVENESS. I need you to remind me that you actually love me. Yes, even me. I need to know that You can. I need to know that you do. I need to know that you will. I need to know that you're willing to lead, I need to know that you are willing to comfort, I need to know that you are willing provide, I need to know that you are willing to provide not only for existence, but for the fruition of the things you've made a persistent gnawing in my mind. I know in my head that you are a loving God, but sometimes I think your love feels worse than another's scorn. God I need you to help me sort out how I feel, and move closer to you, so I can see what it is that you want me to do, and how you plan to make a way for it. Please get back to me soon. I'm already 28. At best I've only got another sixty or seventy years to wait.

I'll try to love you.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Contradictions of Creation

In my last post I discussed how we artist “waste” time. In that post, I offered metaphors and symbols for a process that is more emotional than analytical, but there is room for analyzing the process and a place for explaining its mechanics.

On the whole, I do not believe that most of us are aware of how the creative process plays out. Some of us have been privileged enough to know those inspired moments, and they are so pristine and complete unto themselves that it almost feels violent to dissect such a sacred event. And yet, I think that it is because we do not understand the process that we are reluctant to submit to its needs. Maybe if we were better acquainted with the contradictions of creation we would be less inclined to discard the tools we need to achieve our desire.

I think that many of have this notion that great artists and writers simply sit down one day and begin to create. They may have had some training but once inspired they simply do so fully and completely with no flaws or defect. I will grant you that I have had those moments when it seems like my fingers race along the keyboard with no conscious thought or design, seeming to chase an idea of their own accord. There have been times when the paint seemed to dance upon the canvas to the proper place and adopt the proper shade with no assistance from me. Always these are my favorite pieces of work, pieces that I feel no arrogance or vulnerability in showing, because they seem to have to very little to do with me.

I wish that such times were always the case, but in truth they are rare. And yet, even in those times of almost spontaneous generation, I know the truth of the moment. The work before me, taking shape as if it had a life of its own, seeming to assert that my hands are but the hands of a barely needed midwife, is not something that was born on this day.

Throughout my life I have been an observer, picking apart every idea put before me. I can never remember a time when I could simply watch a movie or read a book. Constantly, I am grappling with the work demanding that it yield the idea that it cloaks, searching for its most elemental meaning. I blame this on my father who taught me that anyone who took the time to write a book, play, or movie, anyone who bothered to paint a picture or sculpt a form, had a fundamental belief that they believed so profoundly they were compelled to share it with the world.

I took him at his word, and I began to see the truth in what he had told me. To this day, I have yet to see any creative work that did not embody some ideology or dogma that had shaped the individual who created it. Some are easier to spot than others, but they are there.

Like grapes, I gather all of these bits of inspired thought and emotion. I pool them together in my mind, allowing them to sink deep within me, until I can distil the truth from what I have seen or heard. It may set untouched for years fermenting as a good wine, waiting until the proper day to be tasted. Some ideas may be taken out, reevaluated and judged as I mature only to be recasked and shelved yet again. At times I have been guilty of revealing an idea too soon when the flavor, while promising, has yet to gain the depth necessary for true greatness.

But then there are those ideas whose time has come, the image in my head is complete or the words have formed deep within my psyche and now it must be shared with my friends. If I have been sensitive to the nuances of its maturation I will produce a seductively simple yet bold creation whose complexities must be experienced to be known.

We work when we collect the bounty of the creation around us. We toil as crush the ideas beneath the weight of our scrutiny. We labor as allow them to foment within us, giving them room and space to find a new life under our care. With diligent patience we tend to the knowledge we have taken and wait for the pristine moment of clarity to bring it forth. These are the times when inspiration seems effortless. These are the moments when our art is at its finest, finding its form beneath our fingers, only after days, weeks, or even years of tireless exertion to insure that it is revealed in all the grandeur we can bestow upon it.

As artist we live lives of contradiction that perhaps on a good day can be seen as balance. We learn so that we may destroy and prefect, forget and rediscover. No step may be skipped or forgotten. Each one must be made with boldness and caution, or not taken at all. We create alone in the dark but creation without light or unshared is incomplete and not a creation at all. Perhaps the greatest contradiction is the illusion of spontaneity and the dedicated discipline that cannot supplant the instinctive response to inspiration.