DAVE SMALLEN : DESOLATION  HAPPINESS  LISTEN  READ  WATCH  SEE  BUY/SUPPORT  SING/PLAY  UNDERSTAND/CONNECT






        You can’t really separate yourself from the world, though... Alone on a quiet pass or at midnight at the ocean's edge, your head is still swarmed with people, in all their pettiness and love. And when the beauty from those heights isn’t shared, when the sound of unseen waves isn’t being savored beside you, somehow it’s not all that real. We’re born in undeniable dependency, out from the womb undeveloped, trusted into human arms. We’re destined to thirst for that connection, for that touch, our whole lives. That romantic image of the isolated artist laboring through the night... it isn’t really about solitude (not, at least, in the way I once imagined). She struggles to communicate something.  She sits alone while she shapes a communion. Her work depends on those recipients of her talent and insight and story, on her community. If I trace back the rope from nearly every tug of panic or desire, I find the other end firmly gripped in a human hand. Our dreams, our ambitions, our disappointments, our failures, our joy, our pain, it’s all tied up in those we know and love and long for and depend on and tolerate and despise and defeat. Other people are our lives. We build each other’s cities, we are the witnesses to one another’s struggles and victories, to one another’s existence. I simply cannot be me if you aren’t you. Now you see why we must be good to one another.

         And if you find yourself feeling removed from humanity, the pain isn’t simply psychological.  Your body aches. It burns you out and breaks you down. But there are certain ways that the distance does bring you closer.  From way way out things are clearer. You see how each person really is this unique cauldron of experience and knowledge, belief and skill and manner and perspective and genes and
everything. And when you tap into someone, when they start bubbling over and spilling out into the world, you witness the enormity of what lies within each of us: a story and a potential unlike that of any other being that’s ever lived. You also start see the isolation of the individual. Your own separateness and sadness and self-deceit and anxiety and anger, your own quirky and solitary joy, is suddenly apparent on all the faces around you. You scoff at those great myths; that everyone else is holding it together beneath their wide-eyed smiles, that all your worry and shame is your rare and unrelatable burden to bear. No, everyone is starving in their own way. Everyone is stepping through their own fire to show up and speak their truth, to stick up for themselves, to get the job done, to be good, to be kind, to do what they think is right. You start to see the acts of courage that surround you all day, and you see the power of the pain that drives fear and delusion and separateness. .....If I’ve unearthed one secret in my decade of creative work, it’s this: If you want to make a piece of art that means something - that connects to a silent universal current - make it about alienation. Better yet, make it about the conquering of alienation. Make it a love story. Show us a pair of arms melting the coldest iceberg in the vastest ocean.

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