Musings on Writing, Acting, Music, and other “useless” careers

While sitting over the age-old table of musings (at a drinking establishment) with a colleague who is wrestling with her future… the inevitable came up.

“I just… wonder sometimes if I shouldn’t do something that MATTERS to the world. Like a doctor or a police officer, or a teacher.”

… instead just acting, of just making up words? Parroting them back?


Ohhhh, do I know this feeling. In the darkness of 3am, in the bank account with sometimes less than $63 in it, in the moments where I think “oh my god, what am I doing? What are we all doing?”

… and yet.


Fie on the notion that only tangible creations have value. As well say that the only value of a human is the sperm and the egg that makes more of us. As well say that the only value of a tree is the wood that will burn, the paper to be had. As well say that the only value of the wind is to sweep the dust from the steps.

Yes, The tangible jobs are amazing. The factory workers who assemble, the chefs who create wonders. The farmers who turn the soil into life for all of us, the nurses who heal and bring relief and reassurance. The babysitters, the mechanics, the doctors and cops, and lawyers and bankers and ALL the people who do things to keep our lives running.

AND the artists. The artists who make the song of our civilization, and the dance of our world.

We, as a people, require self-reflection. As individuals, as families, as towns and nations. We must look at who we are, where we have been, and where we are going.

And there is no single mirror that will show us that. Nowhere can we see in the entirety what and who we are.

…. but with art we CAN. Each song, each story, each movie and painting, each dance and sculpture and book and photograph has a tiny piece of the mirror of truth in it. No single sliver can show us what we need to see. We need them all.

Because when a thousand, a hundred thousand, a million slivers of the mirror are all about us, and each one reflects a bit of who we are?

We truly see.

And with truly seeing, comes growth.


3 Responses

  1. jaime samms
    jaime samms at |

    You always say such well reasoned things, my friend. As a person who’s life is mired in creative pursuits (and I say mired because of the exact discussion you had with your friend–some days, it seriously does feel that way) I agree that it isn’t for nothing the human spirit is capable of art. If it didn’t matter, we would be able to do it. We wouldn’t *need* to do it.

  2. lisa44837
    lisa44837 at |

    I would be so lost without those who put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) & those who narrate the stories so I can now do what I love most while also doing what I hate most. So to think what these people do has no value is completely wrong. Thanks to all the artists who make the world a more beautiful place for those of us who are not creative yet can still appreciate beauty.

  3. 16forward
    16forward at |

    I am a retired educator/administrator and I cannot tell you the times the written word was the solace I sought after a long day of encouraging students, teachers and parents. Don’t stop. You’re important to so many of us in ways you’ll never know.


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