• Jessica James

A mind calibrated to find darkness will never acknowledge a sky filled with stars

We curled up together under freshly laundered hotel sheets, bodies warm and clean after a long soak in our private onsen. Eyelids gently heavy but not enough to desire sleep just yet. We could make it through a movie first. Scrolling through the endless thumbnails of endless movies, our heart strings pulled at the title ‘Midnight in Paris’. Owen Wilson – sold.

My creative spirit had been feeling caged as the physical world asked for my participation in travelling over the Netherlands and Japan for the past 5 weeks. Watching someone elses artist journey felt like a welcome break from the crushing reality that mine was screaming ‘OIL PAINTS’ and all I could offer was a blank ink pen or a graphite grey pencil. Both underwhelming consolation prizes to the thick, creamy dream of glossy oils.

The preview screen showed. Owen Wilson plays a troubled writer who finds himself going back in time to the 1920’s at the stroke of midnight. Surrounded by his literary heroes who only too eagerly help him to overcome the challenges he faces in the completion of his novel. Owen progresses from a shy and tormented artist, to one with confidence and capability to be a great writer in his own right.

We watched. There was one particular quote that struck me so profoundly and unexpectedly, that it felt like the character who voiced the words was talking directly to me. She said

"The artist's job is not to succumb to despair

but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.”  ― Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris: The Shooting Script

To find an antidote for the emptiness of existence… So easily we find ourselves being able to point out all the ways our world is broken. How it will never live up to the standard we dream it to be. When we dwell in this place, nothing seems to get better. How could it? A mind calibrated to find darkness in the sky will never acknowledge one filled with stars. He will simply look around them to find the darkness to reinforce the ‘fact’ that they are lucky breaks in a world of doom. So, as artists, our very job is to be pointing our work towards the stars, always. Acknowledge the world as containing both but focusing on where the light is.

The times I find myself in the most confusion, down-trodden perspective, is when I forget this purpose. Our purpose is to continually overcome the odds and dig deeper into the very cosmos. To bring back truthful art of another dimension, the one constantly ebbing and flowing around us. Not feel ashamed of this, not feel like it doesn’t serve a real purpose in this world because it does. We need to remember these things because it changes the way we think and act in this world.

When we remember we are all connected – we do not harm others

When we remember we are all connected – we do not harm the earth

When we remember we are all connected – we do not judge others

When we remember we are all connected – we act in ways of loving kindness

When we remember we are all connected – our ego falls away

There are many ways to find antidotes for emptiness, as many as there are humans. But the road to finding them, are the same for everyone. Follow the path that lights you up. For me it is making art, writing, being in nature and connecting deeply with others. For my partner, it is gardening, working on cars, and spending time with family. Identify yours, these will become tools in your toolkit for life. They remind us that who we are is not insignificant, that we are connected -a star in a sky of millions. You are important and your happiness and wellbeing are important too, our whole cosmos gets thrown out of whack without you.

There is no right or wrong. The main point to remember is that as long as you believe it will work and you can, then it will and you will. As long as you believe that it wont work and you cant do it, it wont work and you can’t. Both will be true.


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©2020 by Jessica James.