As you grow, you start to fit into yourself a bit more. Your eyes no longer simply devour the sights, the shocking expanse, of the world; you now endeavor to understand it. To order it. To capture it. You watch people. At times you are even accused of staring. Caught out enough, you learn to keep your eyes down. You watch your feet sometimes skip, sometimes shuffle, sometimes stop and stand breathlessly still. A glimmer of beauty raises your eye, and the startling intensity of it submerges you, diminishes the noise around you, within you. Your insides are suffused with light, swept up in a rush of other-worldly music. And you single-mindedly revel in a moment of aesthetic joy.
Then the glimmer fades. You realize you're amidst those who didn't see what you saw, didn't hear what you heard. They offer only sidelong glances in your direction. If they are kind, they shake their heads and move on. Kinder still, they offer a smile, an encouraging nod. If unkind, a joke--or stone--is thrown.
Being an artist means being a misfit.
But being a misfit does not mean that you yourself are ill-fitting. Quite the opposite. You see the world differently. Often you see it more clearly, more truly. And you see the promise of what it can be. You are offered glimpses of beauty that few are afforded. You may not understand all that you see, but you have the awareness that life is made up of more than the onrush of the immediate. This awareness sets you apart, creates tension. This awareness lives in opposition to the life and time in which you have been placed.
Yet not all tension should be resisted. Not all that is discordant should be resolved.
You must fight the urge to flee the misfit feeling. Defy the inner insinuation that you are the butt of all jokes. Ignore the cloying, hissing voice that tells you that you don't belong.
You have the capacity to see beauty, to hear beauty, to create beauty that is unique only to you.
This is your gift.
Your gift matters.
And, one sweet and astonishing day, you will find other misfits like yourself. Those who see you. Who hear the same music. Who catch the glimmer of light and stop alongside you to stare. Together you will encounter beauty, and you will each be changed by it.
To be an artist is to be alone. To be alone is to understand the need to create. To create is to connect. And to connect, if only for a few heartbeats, reminds us that we are not alone.
Hold on to that.
From your fellow misfit,
top image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23737079@N03/2920935395