“Something will happen soon,” I said. “I know that much,” and I looked to him for confirmation.
“That’s good,” he breathed, and needing to say more, he added, “Keeping a fire in the belly.”
The weight of his words hit me square in the chest as we walked through the empty hallway to our friends’ apartment. From their balcony, you could see the city from the center, growing outward and multiplying like bacteria – but I couldn’t relate. In the midst of it all – the honking horns, the people with places to be, the skyscrapers reaching higher and higher – I felt motionless and watched as the doers did. I’ve been everywhere this month: gratification, aggravation, abjection, and everything in between, but the common denominator is stagnancy – that dark shadow of complacency that rears its head from restlessness. It’s a new feeling for me – or at least, this is the first time I’ve been mature enough to recognize its face – and I had to address it.
I’m a beginner creative by profession, which essentially means I’m constantly producing intangible work and reaping no tangible reward. Of course, I knew this was part of the gig, so I planned on it – saved as much as I could, while I could because, unless I’m playing covers, money is basically removed from the equation. That’s fine – for a while. And, when I say this, I’m not even considering the actual need for money to, you know, live. I’m simply talking about the emotional state of being in a completely intangible-work-for-intangible-reward state. It’s draining because we inevitably use money to value ourselves, our progress, our art, and when it’s not consistently made, it affects our egos – that prideful, no-one-can-hold-me-back mentality that we have to nourish to even consider taking the leap of artistry as a career. But, I’ve come to realize that it’s a near impossible standard to meet – at least in such stages of infancy.
Anything worth having takes time – especially art for art’s sake. It’s a seed that’s watered and fed and protected. Initially, it won’t be able to provide because, really, overnight beanstalks with gold at the top are just fairytales. Initially, it won’t bear any fruits because it hasn’t been given the time to set its roots. Initially, you have to be the one to shelter it because so many things are constantly trying to sweep it from the ground. But, if you care for it with discipline and a belief in its progress, it will grow, and it will return the favor.
I turned away from the city, still standing on the balcony, because I didn’t feel a part of it – its flowering or its evolution – and I didn’t reap the benefits of its life at night either. I went back to my home, on the edge of its evolution, to water the seed.