Irrelevance is Essential
Speaking from my own artist’s journey, something that often comes up is the struggle to feel like art is actually important. Especially in the context of things like war, a global pandemic, mass shootings and modern day slavery - how do I justify spending time and resources on painting, or writing or making silly music? Why write about things that seem totally irrelevant to all the Big Stuff going on?
The thing is, the irrelevance factor is what makes those things so important to hold onto. They’re there to help me deal with the Big Stuff. Putting paintbrush to canvas, kneading warm dough with both hands, working callouses onto my fingertips with guitar strings, it all serves to carry my mind and soul through the sharper, more jarring pieces of life.
Some years ago, I visited the Holocaust Museum in Skokie, IL. It is a rough place to visit. One thing that sticks with me, though, is a display about a bra. That’s right, a bra. Somehow, one of the female prisoners of a concentration camp held on to her bra. In the presence of something as awful as a concentration camp, I don’t know whether I’d have the presence of mind to hold onto my underwear. But for her, that item obviously made a difference. It held her humanity intact.
So this is my encouragement to you - give yourself permission to play, even if it’s just for five minutes, and especially when you feel like it is not the right time to.