On the Artist’s Life (11/27/13-Eureka Springs, Ark.)

Perhaps 90-95 per cent of what I directly know of happiness, well-being, and spiritual enthusiasm has occurred while I was walking, thinking, or writing in solitude. Is this a good thing? Is this a not-so-good thing? I do not even feel tempted to answer such a silly-schizoid pair of questions. You hear people say, ‘If you really want to succeed as a musician, as a poet or a philosopher, you’ve got to pour yourself into it one hundred per cent. I’m not so sure about what they mean by this. When I was young—still in my teens—I opened myself to the creative or artistic spirit inside of me and it seized me. Since then, it has never really released me for more than a brief vacation or a temporary leave of absence before abruptly reeling me back in. If any pouring was going on, it was not me doing the pouring. It has done all the pouring. Over the years it has poured out nearly every bit of me that it cannot use, or that does not suit its tastes or interests. Am I resentful or outraged by this? Can’t say that I am. I defer to its higher tastes and standards. I can only suppose those parts needed to go.

I know a few miserable persons who have a hole where their souls ought to be. Before long, there is likely to be a hole where ‘Paul’ used to be. Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing? I reckon that when this process is finished, there won’t be anybody left to care about it one way or the other—and it has always looked after me, so I’m good with that. Do I even know what it is? In all honesty, I do not. But I surely know when it is present—and when it is not.


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