I roll my eyes when you tell me that you’ve found your calling, your passion, your purpose in life. It’s a beautiful eye roll, long, deep, exaggerated. It pauses purposefully as it kisses my eyelids, and tumbles down again in perfect timing. But you don’t see it, because I’m not that rude. I roll my eyes to myself, but, to you, I smile and nod and ask appropriate questions in polite interest. And then I go home and work on my calling, my passion, my purpose in life.
I hate those words. They sound too lofty, they take my dreams too seriously. They imply a whimsy to my work that I don’t particularly appreciate. They sound like feelings — temporary and fleeting — spawned from an Ira Glass quote or those inspirational posters I pretend not to love. But my work is not whimsical. It is steady and long and boring. There is little passion in the day-to-day. There are only todo lists and audio files and the occasional subtweet. There is little in the weeds that feels purposeful.
I’m really good at the short term shit. I can break things down into little pieces and gobble them up with my pink pen and my blue notebook. But stepping back and taking it in is hard. Seeing how the pieces connect and construct that mosaic you envisioned is difficult when you’re used to squinting at the parts. Sometimes you realize it’s the wrong mosaic, and you toss it out and start fresh. Other times, you see the eyes are in the wrong place, and you move things around. And still other times, there just aren’t enough pieces to put together and you can’t see how it’s going to work. And those moments are ok. What’s terrifying is when you can see it, and the mosaic is perfect. Just perfect. But it’s too big, it’s too beautiful, it’s too perfect for you to be the one who creates it.
You visit people’s galleries, halls stuffed with art, full of visions come to life and hung on walls. They are grand and loud and purposeful. You can’t see the glue holding the pieces together. You can’t imagine glue having a place here. It’s too messy to belong.
You want to be inspired, you want it to light a flame in you, you want to feel that passion that people love talking about, but none of those things happen. You look back at your work, at the pieces strewn across the floor, the hardened adhesion twisted into sharp bits on the carpet, the messy notes caked on a scratched up whiteboard, and your heart is heavy. You see no art here. And so you roll your eyes. It’s a beautiful eye roll, long, deep, exaggerated. It pauses purposefully as it kisses your eyelids, and tumbles down again in perfect timing.