A Thought For A Grey Winter’s Day

It’s easy to cut people from one’s life using the popular excuse that they are ‘toxic’. And, there should be no doubt that place should never be given to manipulative, gaslighting, narcissistic persons. However…

I see too much of ‘difficult’ individuals getting discarded by people using the toxic excuse, when these individuals aren’t toxic at all; they are simply different. They may be wounded. They may deal with life and its frustrations and disappointments in a way that you disagree with. They may feel about matters very differently than you do. But, different isn’t toxic. And, giving up on someone and their friendship means you miss out on seeing things from another perspective than your own.

I guess many people are afraid of looking – really looking – at things from a different perspective than their own. And, I see friendships lost because of this stubbornness. 

A recent situation between two friends of mine has brought my song ‘Incomprehensible‘ to mind:

‘We’re at an impasse, no bridge exists between our worlds. And neither one can fathom the view from the other’s eyes.’

Yet, there should be some fathoming going on! 

Alas, I fear that both of my friends are unwilling to see things from the other side. One feels they have the moral high ground and doesn’t seem to want to give an inch. The other isn’t in a place where they can make allowances for such an ideological view of things. Impasse. Sad. 

Friendship is precious. Life and loss is painful. Compassion remains the key and can act as interpreter. But, now I’m just getting lofty and preachy and sounding ideological myself, and I’m not an idealist; I’m a realist.

I guess I’m just frustrated at my own inability to get these two to mend up their friendship, as well as being annoyed with the general way of things.

There’s no way to end this post except with a deep, heavy sigh…oh, and a link to that song.

https://autumndawnleader.bandcamp.com/track/incomprehensible

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This Is EXACTLY How I Feel

“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke.” – Vincent van Gogh

Van_Gogh_Self-Portrait_with_Straw_Hat_1887-Detroit

This is exactly how I feel about my music. And, in general, I relate to this incredible artist very much. The anxiety. The bouts with mental illness. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all a part of the brilliantly artistically gifted: you can have the creativity and be able to produce works of marvellous beauty, but the pain, the torment, the feeling that you really don’t belong here, all go along with it. It is very, very sad. But, it is our existence. And, I suppose if you gave me the choice between being “happy” (whatever that is) and my ability to sing and make music, I would choose the latter. But, what I am writing specifically about in this post is this issue of obscurity rather than our shared mental health problems.

According to Wikipedia, during Vincent van Gogh’s life, his work was known only to a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still. Hmm, that certainly sounds all too familliar.

Of course, not all artists are doomed to live in this obscurity, only being appreciated and finding acclaim for their contributions posthumously. Not all of us are alike. There isn’t a great artistic brotherhood (just like there isn’t some great sisterhood of women, either…but, I digress – yes, again! – that’s a post for another time); we aren’t all cut out with cookie cutters. Some of us aren’t tortured as badly as others and some of us do get discovered (and appreciated) whether tortured greatly or not prior to leaving this ill-fitting world. I do wonder what it’s like to be in that category, but that has not been my lot.

Vincent van Gogh was 37 when he died. I am 38, nearly 39. I feel old. I feel passed it. And, my entire life – artistically speaking – has been this quote. When I saw it today, shared on another artist’s Facebook wall, it knocked the wind out of me. I felt like I had been struck. I physically hurt when I read it. Because, I know this experience, and it has been my experience for nearing four decades now.

And, so, this is simply my lament for myself (yes, another pity party for a pitiful nobody of a singer/songwriter), and it is my celebration of van Gogh – who was brilliant and sad and who painted the sky not on canvas only, but on the very fabric of our hearts. His work hangs, no longer belittled or thought of no worth, now admired, acclaimed, sung of, cherished and highly valued. I wonder what it would have been like if his paintings had been considered with such value when he was alive. One thing I can say – back to the mental health thing – it would not have changed his mental state, it would not have chased the demons away, but what it would have done is to provide validation to the living man and put bread on his table; it would have fed both spirit and body. 

How am I so certain of this? Because, that is what it would do for me.

Now, a last note must be made here. To the precious few who do support my music, I want to make sure you know how grateful I am for you. I would never want you to think that I’m ignoring you; I want you to know that you mean a great deal to me – you are a tiny, but beautiful, spark of validation in a black sky that would otherwise be solid darkness; I appreciate you very much. But I needed to write this post because of how this quote affected me. I needed to write it for me, and for him.