When I first heard the phrase, “Art is Life, Life is Art,” I was sold. Add in a generous helping of attractive weirdos performing ritual embodiments of social and spiritual commentary to illustrate the point, and I was ecstatic. Take my money.
The problem is that you have to make a living. I’ve done my fair share of squatting in my warehouse art studio with no windows, and after a few good laughs at how stupid you look crouching in the slop sink taking a sponge bath, it gets old. Microwave ovens may be incredibly versatile, but I really appreciate running water nearby and a full sized fridge.
When your stated purpose in life is to produce the Art so that it can be Life, you end up in the hustle pretty quick. Make enough money to support the Art. Make enough Art to have the Life. Merge them into the cosmic soup to fill your empty belly.
I’ve been rereading Stephen King’s “On Writing”. After years of pining, he finally buys the giant oak desk he’s been imagining for years, a thick and massive slab planted directly in the middle of the room. For 6 years he sat at the desk "either drunk or wrecked out of [his] mind, like a ship's captain in charge of a voyage to nowhere."
After getting sober, he got rid of the desk, and put a living room setup in its place. His kids started coming and hanging out. Leaving pizza boxes. Involving themselves in his life, and him in theirs.
It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.
– Stephen King, On Writing
I felt like I'd missed the chair trying to sit at my desk in the middle of my life. I spend so much of my time trying to create a container that supports me in my work. It's so airy. Spacious. Easy to fill with my every whim and thought. And yet I'm left looking at an empty room. It's wonderful to do work that I'm proud of, but ultimately that work is in support of the life I seek to create with the people I wish to share it with. The container can only be full of life if I make it welcoming.
It's time to move the desk into the corner.