I heard that somewhere, around 1993, most likely. If memory serves, at the City Limits near Pittsburgh. Some stellar night with friends and hundreds of strangers, I heard that refrain over distorted notes, syncopated beats, gravelly voices in a darkened hall in a strip mall. It’s strange where we find profundity and sublime thought. Fear is the mind killer.
Fear kills so much. Fear is the underlying emotion behind so much of what happens. As an artist, fear hems us in and prevents us from trying or trying enough. So many things to be afraid of and the list never stops growing. We are fragile in too many ways, and the most successful of us find a way out of the walls we build to protect ourselves.
True creativity requires great bravery. You cannot be timid and engage in art. The looks you get when you tell others you’re an artist, writer, film maker, or musician, can wither a weaker sort. Rejection in their eyes, they invariably judge you. Creative arts are for the special people, and you can’t be special. But, here is the rub, you are. By the simple act of creating, you accomplish more than those who haven’t.
Fear of ideas being met with derision can silence them. Often, creative types, like ourselves, see the world differently. The possibilities and the ideas creative types possess just don’t neatly align with the zeitgeist. Creating from a viewpoint that is askew from the societal norms puts us at odds with public perceptions. Its takes courage to put those ideas out into the world.
Even when courageous enough to create, rejection remains a possibility. Does that inform us that our work is lacking merit? Creatives and their creations are not mutually exclusive entities. The creation is an extension of is creator. Rejection of one work is a rejection of the artist, not wholly but incrementally. Fear to continue a path of continued rejection can silence an artist.
What can be done? We can conform or we can crash against the idols of popular thought. Which of these options feeds the soul? You didn’t come here to be like everyone else, did you? I didn’t.
Don’t be another cog in a broken machine, be you. Be afraid, but do it anyway. Create, and don’t worry about perception. Please don’t let fear stop you from achieving. I know, easier said than done.
Zombies are real. Mindless drones surround us, and it’s not getting better. Thoughtless and hungry for complacent comrades, their bite is fear. Their infection, dead minds. Their world, a hum of monophonic dirge. Don’t listen to anyone who needs your silence, or questions your value by breaking from the herd. Fear is their tool. Fear is their prison. Fear is the mind killer.