On Monday Racer 187 and I took a rare opportunity to go on a Date Night. We, like most parents, are active every day and night of the week so we had to purposefully make time for us. We stole away to have dinner and see a movie.
At our local performance theater they were showing Miles Ahead about the incomparable Miles Davis. It was an interesting film starring Don Cheadle and Ewan McGregor, the former also writing, directing, and producing the film.
The movie is a gritty bio-pic of Davis in his later, drug-infused years suffering from chronic hip pain, writer's/performance block, and regret about his past. Although the story itself is fictional, Davis, the drug use, and the music are all true and fascinating.
On the way home from the movie Racer and I discussed the film, Davis, and art in general. What I determined was that artists who suffer - depression, physical and/or emotional pain, drug use, violence, etc. - create universally appreciated timeless works of art.
Racer countered that happy, positive artists have a strong voice that people are attracted to and seek. I didn't disagree, I replied that although Love may be universal, it is felt and understood differently around the globe. Pain, however, seems to be a human condition that binds us all.
And, when in pain, sometimes the only thing that can soothe us is creating or another's expression of that pain whether it's in the form of a painting, sculpture, dance, writing, film, or music. Not all people are exposed to Love in the same way, but pain is so dominant in human life that we can all identify with it in some way.
So, for artists to truly resonate must they suffer tremendously to create masterpieces that connect with the masses? Is there no hope for the "Happy" artist who came from a pain-free upbringing and life? Are light, optimistic pieces not popular?
Of course not.
Look at Paul McCartney and "Silly Love Songs", Pharrell Williams and "Happy", Beethoven's "Ode to Joy", and Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" from his masterpiece The Messiah. People do love and respond to such works and embrace them through the ages.
But for the artists, to put themselves out there, to have the masses celebrate their accomplishments, is suffering a pre-requisite?
I'm not famous. I'm not well-known or well-read by the masses, but I do have a readership that I am proud to have earned. A lot of my pieces I have written over the years are happy, positive articles that embody who I am. But, I have suffered pains - unspeakable pains that shaped who I am and influence me daily.
If people across the globe are united by pain then perhaps it is only logical that the greatest artists of all times are shaped by the pains they endured.
J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame comes to mind. Hemingway does, too. Picasso, Van Gogh, Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison of The Doors. Madonna. And, where I started, Miles Davis.
My philosophy has always been, "You have to be exposed to be inspired."
Now I am realizing that in addition to exposure, strength, tenacity, and the talent to turn pain into creativity are helpful additives.
Love still motivates me. It inspires me. It drives me.
But it is evident that the pains I have endured, the pains I still endure, have shaped me, formed me, and make me work harder to communicate, create, and connect.
What artists of the past and today resonate with you? Did they suffer greatly in life? Discuss your feelings about this subject below. I am always interested in reading your opinions.