All the Way

“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

–Kurt Vonnegut

Monday  our writing group  held a discussion on “why we write,” someone offered this quote. Of course we laughed,but went on to share the ways writing has made our lives bearable and grown our souls  It was a powerful and moving conversation.

For years I’ve felt almost handicapped by being an artist. If I had a “real job” I could never give it my all, because my heart was in my creative work. In order to put my artist self first, If I don’t pursue my creative work, by soul shrivels. I’ve simplified my life,  lowered my material needs and expectations, in order to live the hours and days of my life as I choose: absorbing, reflecting, creating, sharing the wonder, beauty and terror of being alive.

alltheway_web_300x450_2The more committed I become more to living my artist life, the more old negative ideas slip away.  The quote made clear what is already happening: by honoring the Muse, by allowing the creativity to flow in and out, all my work is enhanced. Things I used to think were escapist, like watching television or reading, aren’t  ‘guilty pleasures,’ they’re sources of inspiration and understanding.

Last weekend I was in Boston for two days of mastermind meetings with one of my business teams. We shared challenges and  successes, and asked for solutions and support. I felt completely in my confident business self, not holding back, not afraid.

While I was there I learned that Bryan Cranston was on stage at Harvard’s American Reperatory Theater in a play called All the Way.

If I weren’t such a Breaking Bad fanatic  I never would have seen this amazing play. I I thought it was in NY. When I realized I was right there, I skipped lunch and got nearly the 17th of 20 standing room tickets. Bad knees or no, I was going to see Cranston on stage!

He plays Lyndon Johnson in his first year in the White House. Calling himself an accidental president, Johnson is challenged to carry on the bold civil rights mission of his predecessor, but also run for election. The play opens on the flight home from Dallas in November of 1963, and uses the countdown to Election Day 1964 to frame the turbulent drama of the times. Rev. Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, Hubert Humphrey, Stokely Carmichael, George Wallace, Robert McNamara make for a potent mix of characters.

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The challenge of moving forward while keeping the congress and the party together are remarkably pertinent today.

Of course, Cranston was incredible. I kept trying to see him behind the character, found him only in his animated face, and certain ways he throws up his hands. His LBJ was stubborn, foul-mouthed but funny, a Texan who both charmed and bullied his way toward his destiny. Having recently seen the very moving Lee Daniel’s The Butler, it was terrific to see the story from another angle.

It was thrilling to be there.

I’m just a painter of landscapes, a writer of little essays and stories, a marketing consultant. But the passions that flow through me are fueled by the media and art I consume, as well as the history I’ve lived through. My work with my art and blogging students makes me a better, wiser business woman. My fannish joy leads me to places I would never have discovered if I hadn’t been open to the stories, the colors, the people, the art.

Go into the arts. Seriously! You will have created your life.

5 thoughts on “All the Way”

  1. What a wonderful post, Patrise. I think this was my favorite line: “But the passions that flow through me are fueled by the media and art I consume, as well as the history I’ve lived through.” I find that just as quotable and inspiring as Kurt Vonnegut’s words. Thank you for creating and sharing.

  2. “They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.”

    Patrise….how brilliant and how true! Many years ago, I did a semester at the Georgetown branch of the Corcoran School. I chose book binding. The class focused mainly on producing all kinds of raw material to produce strange. weird book covers (as opposed to covers that bind pages] . [one of the students produced a book cover made of micro-pillowsI

    I had hoped to continue futzing for exactly the reasons you give.. to “make life more bearable and making time for the soul to grow! Instead, I’m struggling with downsizing this three story townhouse that we should neer have bought [ too big to manage for a couple without children] I hope we can eventually sell it and find something smaller and more manageable. As a single woman working in London and subsequently in Madrid, I was a confirmed lover of small, easy to manage apartments that required little or no heavy housekeeping, and sufficient time to expand artistic leanings. I hate vacuuming, and being allergic to dust, I loathe wall to wall carpeting even more!

    Elizabeth [a.k.a Liz}

    P.S. I’ve fwded your All the Way post to two women

    1. Oh, Liz, so nice to see your comment on the blog! Keep up the creativity, you’ll get thru the downsizing. The more you pitch now, the more help you get, the faster you can be in something easy and new. I love my new house-free life!

  3. First of all I would like to say great blog!
    I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do
    not mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing.
    I’ve had trouble clearing my mind in getting my ideas out.
    I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10
    to 15 minutes are generally wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints?
    Thank you!

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