Of the things that get my goat these days, the conflict between art and duty is at the top of the list. I kvetch often when I cannot seem to find, or to make, the time to attend to the acts of creation that I claim I need to sustain myself. It would seem to be inconsistent with my goals. It makes me wonder when I truly am going to pull a carpe diem and satisfy my intention.
My peace of mind depends on it, don't you think? And if peace of mind is that important it would seem imperative to follow those notions and impulses that feed it. I had the chance today. Make that two chances. I failed to act on both, and now I am disappointed.
The chances were nothing earth-shattering. There was no flash of insight leading to the cure for cancer or ending world poverty. No, these chances were more humble, intrinsic to me and me alone. Well, unless you consider that the chances had potential for me to gather something to share with the extrinsic world.
I had an assignment wherein I had the opportunity to do something constructive with my camera and earn payment from the results. The assignment was in a semi-rural area somewhat south of my current abode. When I had left the house earlier, on impulse I put my film camera in the car, in case I saw something scenic or interesting out in the rolling fields and farms. So it wasn't like I didn't have any equipment.
The assignment took longer than I expected, and I was tired, hungry and hot when I finished. My thoughts turned to getting home and finishing the task. I was in a hurry, for what in hindsight turned out to be not so pressing reasons. So I get in the car and head home, thinking too much about what I needed to do.
I passed a concrete plant at an intersection of two roads and what seemed like four cornfields. The interplay of light and shadow on the industrial structures was fascinating. I thought about the black and white film I had, but shook my head and muttered to myself "No time, gotta get home." I kept driving.
Nearby and across the road the top of a slightly derelict silo peeped up above a deep cornfield. Next to it were some barn buildings, also in need of sprucing up. Peeling paint, an old tree, cornstalks waving in the foreground. The light was hitting it all just right. The mood was of opportunities fading away, hard work needing to be done, and the unsettling openness of the prairie sky above it.
Perfect photo op, right? Great shots to be had, yes?
I watched it recede in my rear view mirror. I didn't stop. The velvet shackles of duty, the sure thing, the chore to be done, all convinced me to keep going by laying on the old saw of "There will be other opportunities, move along." What really bothered me, the farther down the road I went, is that the creative soul in me raised hardly a peep. It just let it happen.
The question turning over in my mind and heart while I sped down the highway back to the "city", was one of "If not now, when?"
Indeed. Opportunities may exist, but to assume a guarantee is to take them for granted. The voice in my head told me to drive, to follow the call of duty. My artistic life is in danger of atrophy, all because sometimes I listen to the wrong voice.