Thursday, March 18, 2010
When Should Dreams Die?
Kamesh. Photographed in New York City in 1997 by Greg Reynolds.
Tonight an Opening at a Gallery in a suitably downtown New York City lower eastside neighborhood features the new explorations in Black/White photography of a very famous, (not to my family but to the right people in art circles)young photographer, whose suitable good looks has made him also a subject of other well-known photographers. I venture a guess that the Vernissage will be suitably mobbed by suitably goodlooking and young gay men. I will not be there.
I'm glad I'm not the bitter type of older artist who resents the fame of sexually attractive younger artists. Well, maybe a little bit. For me, I, (perhaps naiively, perhaps not) associate fame with recognition, admiration, money, travel, great food and drink and opportunities to frequently get laid. Who could or would knock that? Like probably many other artists, I imagine my moment coming late in life as I'm wheeled out to a microphone, thank all the people who have since died many years before and obviously can't be there, and then keel over from a heart attack.
When should dreams die? Should I let them expire in their own time? Should I just stop feeding them hope or denial and allow them to starve to death? Or is a quick, clean kill the best? A decision to end the pursuit and change direction.
Sometimes I'm amused by advice directed toward the young to follow their dreams. Following your dreams isn't so hard to do if you're living at home or parents are still financing your education, but it's not so easy in middle age. Youth grants the capacity to sleep on a floor or a lumpy sofa, to eat hor'doerves and bar fruit, or to smoke or indulge in drugs and too much alcohol without looking like shit the next day. If I do that, I will look like hell and not function for two days.
I have a an artist friend with a degree from Columbia University, who, in his thirties, turned away from a career in architecture, acted against the wishes of his parents, and put brush to canvas to become a painter. He's now over fifty, does great work and slowly is achieving the recognition that he has long deserved. I admire him so much because he paid such a price to pursue his dreams, and he still struggles to pay that price each new day.
The road to success requires both a point of departure and a good vehicle. It helps tremendously to set off on your journey from a place of affluence and influence. The "affluence" will insure that you can afford the right schools, food and housing, and still have pocket money to pay for drinks and club admissions, while "influence" will make sure you actually get into those acclaimed institutes of higher learning and meet the "right" people. Yet most young people come into the world with out the benefit of wealth or contacts. To them I say, shit sinks but something built of wood floats. Make great work and it will rise to the surface where it can be seen.
The thought of giving up comes to me often, usually in the middle of the night when dreams interrupt my sleep. Yet at this stage of life giving up is difficult to do. I feel like the swimmer who dives off a river bank thinking that the opposite side is only a short distance away, but realizes when his muscles tire that he actually swims in an ocean and can no longer see the shore ahead or behind him. At that point, you have only two choices: keep swimming and pray your toes soon touch bottom, or sink beneath the cold surface and drown. To your advantage, after stroking the water for a long while, your muscles will strengthen, allowing you to paddle faster and further.
I choose to keep swimming.