For most of my life, I’ve been obsessed by two things – words and music. Of course, I’ve had obsessions about other things along the way – a purple sting ray bike with a white banana seat and sparkle streamers, Robert Redford as Hubbell Garnder in the movie The Way We Were, chilled Chardonnay from the Monterey Valley – but those things all pale in comparison to the two constants – words and music.
Ever since I was a tiny child, I have craved one or the other of these things. I can clearly recall the first time I set foot in a library and was surrounded by the amazing sight and smell of all those books – millions of words all to be devoured at my pleasure. My greatest desire was to grab them all up in my tiny three year old arms and carry them home with me. It was just about the same time that I fell in love with a toy piano my parents gave me for Christmas – fell so much in love that I tried to turn everything into a pretend keyboard, even the handle of the grocery basket, or the little white keys of the radio in my dad’s big Buick.
Throughout my life, my heart has been torn between these two loves. Do I write? Do I play? Why did it never occur to me that I could do both? Is there something in society’s expectations that subliminally deters me from trying to practice more than one art at a time? Does the world allow only just so much artistic expression in the life of one person?
I might have thought that was true, at least until recently. For much of my life, it seemed as if I had to partition my artistic interests – if I was mostly playing music, because of a job, or the circumstances of my life, then I stopped writing. And I have always been drawn to the piano in the way I thought that a “true artist” should be, often feeling a physical need to play, almost like a smoker needs a cigarette or an alcoholic needs a vodka tonic. But recently, I’ve begun to feel the same draw to this computer screen – this other keyboard that brings my words alive and sends them out into the world, like the keys on my Kimball grand piano send music into the air.
This shift in perspective has largely come from my experience and acquaintances in the blogging community. Getting to know so many of you who are marvelous writers and poets, as well as photographers, painters, collage makers, quilters, has hushed that nagging little voice that was saying “you can’t do both things well, so you have to pick one or the other.” I’m beginning to believe that not only is it possible to serve more than one artistic master, it’s even preferable. The more I write, the more sensitive I become to the world around me, the nuances of life that I can express in words, in poetry, and also in music. And I’m developing interests in totally different artistic pursuits, which I’ve been having some fun dabbling with over the past couple of weeks.
So, what about you? Do you think an artist can execl in more than one creative area? How many creative masters are you serving?