“At the end of my life, I will not ask whether I have succeeded, but whether I have been obedient to the poetic gifts I have been given.” [Susan McCaslin from an essay on the influence Robin Blaser has exerted on her philosophies of writing and being alive]
I was talking to someone who doesn’t make art lately about the artist’s vocation and this notion arose, that of obedience, of becoming a necessary channel, of getting outside of oneself so the art may flow. If we worry about external conceptions of success, then we are less likely to be attentive to whether we are listening to what the art-impulse/ritual/sacrament requires of us. It is so easy to veer into the abyss of whether one is on a short or long list, invited to a festival, drawing crowds or any other temporal measures of achievement and forget that the only important question is whether one is being faithful to the images or melodies or forms or materials bequeathed. And the hard part is that no one can discern this but yourself. No. Not even you at times. So trust, patience, persistence, a strange resilient hope are required, a willingness to enter the darkness in which no one is applauding and perhaps, to stay there, saying yes, what was it you wanted, I’m still ready.