Songs for the Struggling Artist


The Phantom Limb of Art
September 30, 2015, 3:57 pm
Filed under: art, Creative Process, Feldenkrais | Tags: , , , ,

Sometimes it feels like art is a part of my body. When I’m engaging it, I feel like I’m using all of myself. The whole system works better when I’m making art. When life keeps me from it – when there’s not money to make a show – when I’m not performing – when there’s no time in the theatre or onstage or in the rehearsal room, my art starts to feel like a phantom limb that I can’t control. No can see it but me but it itches and twitches. It takes up space in my nervous system. I cannot scratch it or move it. And the rest of me keeps worrying about that missing part of me – so everything operates sub-optimally.

My legs don’t walk as well – because where is the art?
My breath is more shallow – because where is the art?

I know there are people who can give up their artist lives and happily become lawyers or teachers or ad men or whatever – but I know that I cannot. Even if I somehow found a fulfilling high paying day job – my artist phantom limb would always be calling to me.

I currently have a very meaningful day job (though not at all high paying.) I love a lot of things about it. A client came in today in pain and in tears and left all smiles and ease. That feels great. But as great as it feels, it still isn’t art. I still ache for that which there is no time or money to do.

For many years, there was no cure for the (actual phenomenon of) phantom limb. People who’d lost a leg continued to experience pain in it, decades after they’d lost it. Recently, though, scientists have been experimenting with mirror therapy, which fools the brain into thinking the good leg is the bad leg and suddenly, there’s a shift.

What is the mirror therapy for the impulse to create? Just creating, really. The only way to scratch the phantom limb of art is to make art as soon as is humanly possible.

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