Fiona Apple once spoke of the process of creating art. You throw yourself into something. It consumes you until your message is out. You obsess over it until it’s perfect. You despair in parting with it.
And then, with great anxiety and self-deprecating doubt, you present it to the world. Often to little, if any, fanfare.
And you take it personally, because in no one paying attention, let alone caring about the thing you produced, they’re not paying attention to or caring about you.
You are your art. The two are inseparable.
And if someone does pay attention or care? You know they don’t really get it.
So what was the point?
It’s the plight of the misunderstood. The innate desire to be accepted. The crippling need to express yourself authentically and beautifully to a world of indifferent strangers.
The wanting to be loved.
In a world of surface interactions and base connections, it’s no wonder that we’re all looking for that third quadrant of somethingness, an elusive and ideal juxtaposition of the space between extreme artistic and almost hedonistic indulgence and the innate impulse and responsibility to fall in line and pay taxes. We’re all looking for that something that separates one person or feeling from all the rest. Something to tap into the gut and inspire creation and goodness. Something that carries us above mundane small talk and free drinks and sex. Something that transcends the mendacity of everyday interaction and functionality.
And so we press onwards in pursuit of meaning and light and self.
2017 has been a year, to say the absolute least.
Personally, it’s been insane. Nationally, it’s been even more insane. Globally?! The insanest.
But as we approach the new year, without being too annoyingly cliché about it, where have we found ourselves?
If you haven’t noticed by now, I get a lot of my “wisdom” and perspective from comedians. Chris Delia, a weirdo comedian on whom I have an inexplicable crush, recently tweeted this:
“It’s almost 2018?! Wow! Just thinking about how amazing 2017 was except for how everyone raped everyone else and we kept almost going to war all the time and Cam Newton’s hats at press conferences and how everyone poor is dying and America is literally on fire.”
Remember when everyone was so over 2016? Ha, that’s funny.
Wisdom and perspective.
Yes, 2016 was crazy. 2017 was, expectedly, crazier. But we’ve witnessed some big shifts recently. The country has seen the failure of its governmental and social institutions and belief systems, things that were once held sacred and in reverence. These things, which once made up the backbone of our way of life, were called into questioned, challenged, and for all intents and purposes, overthrown. No, I’m not saying 2017 ushered in an era of anarchy, but I am saying that it’s brought light to not one, but several holes in the dyke.
And that’s important.
We can only chug along for so long while ignoring incompatibilities, injustices, and incongruences. There’s only so much we can sweep under the rug before the rug is no longer sitting on solid ground.
On a personal level, at the end of 2017, I know that I’m a very different person today than I was at the beginning of the year, and with that, I mean I’m a much better version of the person I always was. I’ve grown more unapologetically “Yasmin,” and I’ve found that people – close friends, family members, and strangers – have responded positively to it.
I went through some things that I needed to, addressed some things about myself that I’d been ignoring, and made changes in my life that were long overdue. I cut out things and people that were weighing me down, and I simplified my processes to reduce stress that I had been creating for myself.
But I’m not the only one to have experienced something like this.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken to this year who, at some point in the conversation, expressed something along the lines of,
“Yeah…I’m kind of in a weird place right now.”
2017 was not the norm, for many of us. And while parts of it sucked, it was a year of growth, discovery, and alignment.
2017 has been a year of creation.
Nothing good comes from ease, complacency, or comfort. Change is literally a disruption from what has always been. Change happens whether you want it to or not, or rather, whether you’re ready for it to or not.
All this time, we’ve been living with pain, fear, and agency – governing forces of a world led astray by evil and blindness, driven by greed, interest, and death.
But there’s an anxious discontent that’s been growing, threatening to disrupt the current state of things. The present landscape is inhospitable for growth, no longer able to support the new ideal we’ve dreamt up for ourselves.
The tolerable has become intolerable. The warmth has grown cold. The shell is too small.
And at that point? Change will happen, no matter how much you try to cling to the ways things once were. The transition doesn’t need to be painful, though.
Maybe “change’ knows something we don’t yet. Or maybe it’s just pushing us to acknowledge and accept and do something about the things we know, deep down, are no longer serving us positively.
In other words, I’ve learned that the path of least resistance is usually the best one. Don’t fight against the current. Don’t presume to know more about things that you couldn’t possibly know about – like the future. Trust that things happen for a reason, however much that just sounds like an excuse for your life taking a turn for the apparently worse.
Because “worse” is a relative term, isn’t it? It all comes back to wisdom and perspective.
2017 has been my most challenging year, to date. But it’s also been my most rewarding. I’m full of optimism for the future – for myself and for the world around me.
Now, remember at the end of Harry Potter (*spoiler alert*) when Harry was off to fight Voldemort, fully expecting to die? He turned to the Golden Snitch that Dumbledore had left for him. Up until that point, he had been unable to open it. But the Snitch had come with a riddle.
“I open at the close.”
At the “close” of his life, the Snitch finally opened, and what Harry found inside helped save his life.
And so, The Boy Who Lived…lived.
At the close of 2017, we will find wisdom and perspective, but we will also find creation and art. We will find ourselves, we will find love, and we will find love.
We’ll find that third quadrant of somethingness.