FLASHBACK: Where the hell have I been?

*originally published 8/30/04*

I fell in love with a painting over breakfast and took the artist’s number – does that particular piece mean as much to him if I never call? It’s a strange phenomenon: the more you make your thoughts public, the more you doubt they actually exist when you opt to privatize. I’d be lying if I said that I write solely for myself. If that were true, I’d put it in a journal beside my bed and never let you in on my secrets. I would never wash my hair or put on a pretty dress, and I certainly wouldn’t flirt with you at parties, if there wasn’t something in it for me.

I’m convinced that we do it all for the love, whether it comes from family or friends, or perfect strangers, or our own personal muse. If my words never left the privacy of my keyboard, they would still fulfill a need in me to create art through exposition, through my self-centered pseudo-philosophical musings. I would still be convinced I had contributed something to this world through the means that I am programmed to believe are valuable. I would also believe that I’m somehow rewarded for it, that my karmic bank account is bumped up a notch for having “left my mark”. But who gets to decide these things, anyway? If you’re reading this right now, you’ve either assigned some abstract value to my meanderings or you’re an axe-wielding stalker, and why should I trust either one of you?

I suppose it comes down to a perception of some shared experience between us, even if you don’t know my ass from a hole in the wall. Paintings move me because they strike a nerve somewhere, and it doesn’t have to have even the remotest connection to the artist. A trumpet player on Hawthorne almost moved me to tears this morning with his stilted rendition of “Rainbow Connection”, but he wasn’t anywhere near that play I did in the 5th grade. Sure, he was playing for spare change to get a cup of coffee, but doesn’t he want to know that I’ll remember him tomorrow?

Is art the affirmation, or is affirmation really the art?

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