This is What it is to Love an Artist

It is a truth universally acknowledged by anyone with the misfortune of experiencing it, that to love an artist is to always come in second.  On your first occasion, it can be seen as an accident, and either you learn that being underappreciated is not your style, or you learn to defer to paintbrushes and leather bound books, to six strings and favorite pens. You convince yourself that someday, the exquisite works that are produced will come to reflect your sacrifice. That you will see yourself in the lines on the canvas, hear your laugh in the melody line, taste your kiss in the metaphors typed on the screen. You will believe that it’s only a matter of time.  That you are being saved for the masterpiece. But you would be wrong.

A true artist is an intrinsically selfish being. Always convinced that, given enough time and freedom, a great work will be contributed to the cannon. Always sure that perfection lies dormant within, it just needs to be goaded out. This is why history dictates that many artists are insufferable. Drunks, divas, depressed, addicts, angry, and reckless. Not the habits we try to impart upon younger generations. Not exactly what we want the children of the world to aspire to be. And yet, we celebrate them. Venerate them. Idolize and love them, so wholeheartedly and so desperately. Why?

Because they do what the collective “we” cannot, or dare not. That selfishness also includes thick skin and perseverance. They hold on longer, believe more deeply than others dare to. It’s no accident that they are the ones to succeed. 

Once, in casual conversation, I mentioned to a new acquaintance that I had a penchant for dating painters. He looked at me and laughed and said “Oh, so you’re a masochist?” There was nothing to do but nod.