There is a pretty common myth out there about being creative and being messed up, in that it seems that we create better art if we are wrecked.
In a way, the myth isn’t a myth at all. We do seem to create good stuff when we are messed up, when we are flayed open and ruined, when the world is a weight and there’s nothing to do but crawl into a bottle, to hide behind chemical curtains until things don’t hurt anymore.
We do create good stuff when were messed up. You can see it in the wreckage that Hollywood serves up, sacrificed for our entertainment, in the suicides and broken homes and arrests of creators. Brilliant art made by complete and utter ruin, human beings tortured by talent and psychological disaster.
But it’s not about being smashed; it is about honesty.
The greatest, most heart-wrenching things we read and hear and watch come from someone who is just messed up enough to be honest, who is brave enough to just lay it out there for the whole world to see. But it doesn’t come from the thing, it doesn’t come from the ruin. It is good because the creators weren’t afraid to be real, to expose themselves, to be hurt and to say honestly that they were hurt. It’s just that for some of us it seems harder to be honest when we’re present in our bodies and our psyche, maybe we need a little chemical courage to be open.
You don’t need to be messed up to be honest, you have to simply be brave. And with some guts, with a strong backbone and thick skin, with a little faith and an unshakable belief in your content, you don’t need to be a wreck to make good stuff, you just have to have the balls to be honest.
It’s easier when you get older, I think. I’m married; I dont have to worry about some potential mate reading something I wrote and thinking I’m a tool. My wife already knows, without a shadow of a doubt, that I’m a tool. She married me knowing it, and God bless her heart, she has stuck around this long, I doubt that anything I write is going to change her mind.
And to be honest, maybe adult truths are less exciting than young truths. I don’t consider myself a wreck, not anymore at least. I live a reasonably peaceful life and my truth has changed. My truth now is I mostly don’t miss the firey passion that drove me when I was young, that led me to do such harmful and willfully stupid things. I don’t miss the fire, and I definately don’t miss the ashes, the guilt and regret and the exhausting uncertainty.
Sometimes though, I do miss the fearlessness, the easy honesty.
Because the best art comes from fearless artists.