Friday, January 30, 2009

To Thine Own Thing Be True

Do your own thing. The Sixties catch-phrase divided people back then, but it had its legions of disciples and champions(I actually saw the original Off-Broadway production because a friend of mine had one of the leads). Now it seems positively distasteful and even un-patriotic to mouth the words, and I'm afraid we may be going from the frying pan into the fire. How could it get worse? Well...

Do your own thing. Absolutely essential to the artist, but I would like to include everyone else. Why? The four words say it. Do: action. Your: we're not talking about your parents, your teachers, your boss, your friends, your partner, your commander-in-chief.  Own: your baby, your dream, your precious, your song, your heart, your dance, your thing. Thing: passion, pursuit, challenge, kick, itch, vision, mission, yaya, what makes you tick, what gets you up in the morning, what matters, what you care about. Despite that or because we live in this world of oppression, repression, obligation, prescription, redundancy, duplication, imitation, and restriction, doing your own thing is not only necessary, it is vital. We are nothing short of cattle being lead to the slaughter from cradle to grave. 

I know a lot of people who don't do their own thing. Their lives conspired to deny them this freedom, this power, this voice, this destiny. They couldn't and wouldn't know where to begin to find this in themselves now. Which means, of course, more beer for everyone else.

The cool thing about being an artist is that in that little time and space that is your studio, you have the promise, power, and permission to do your own thing.  No one likes you for it. It's costing them beer. In your studio you can do what you want, when you want, how you want, why you want, etc.  It is a powerful thing. Writers can do it too, of course. The blank pages of a book can become anything. Funnily enough, besides artists in their studios and writers in their books, only dictators and warlords have this kind of power. No wonder some world leaders get rid of artists first. No wonder that other world leaders have so much admiration for artists. This also explains why being an artist has such a high price. No one likes you for it, and no one wants you to get paid for it. Makes sense. Artists cost people beer, after all.

Do your own thing! And make it a good thing! Make it a makes the world a better place own thing! Right on!

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